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New Treatment Eyed for Ewing's Sarcoma

Figitumumab fights tumors and appears to be well-tolerated, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Preliminary research suggests that the anticancer drug figitumumab might be an effective treatment for Ewing's sarcoma, a cancer that affects the areas in and near the bone, mainly in teenage boys.

The drug must undergo two more phases of testing, however, according to a report published in the Dec. 23 online edition of The Lancet Oncology.

In the first phase of research, scientists looked at 29 patients with advanced sarcomas who received the drug between 2006 and 2008. The researchers wanted to assess its safety and ability to be tolerated.

Patients did experience some side effects, such as deep venous thrombosis, back pain and vomiting. Some of the patients appeared to respond well to the drug, the study authors noted.

"Figitumumab is well-tolerated and has antitumor activity in Ewing's sarcoma, warranting further investigation in this disease," the researchers wrote. "Our results show that figitumumab can be safe for both adult and pediatric sarcoma patients, and has single-agent antitumor activity in different sarcoma subtypes, including Ewing's sarcoma."

In a commentary accompanying the study, doctors wrote that "five-drug chemotherapy is routine in the treatment of Ewing's sarcoma, therefore improvement in outcome for these patients will likely require demonstration of the feasibility of combining the antibody with standard chemotherapy."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on Ewing's sarcoma.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: The Lancet Oncology, news release, Dec. 23, 2009

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