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Targeted agent shows promise in biliary cancer study
Date:4/20/2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio An experimental agent has shown promising results in people with advanced biliary cancer, according to a multi-institutional clinical trial led by cancer researchers at the Ohio State University.

The agent, known as AZD6244 (ARRY-142886), blocks certain enzymes that cancer cells need to proliferate and survive.

About 100,000 patients are diagnosed with biliary cancer worldwide every year, representing 15-20 percent of all liver cancer cases. Most patients present at later stages of the disease, which has a universally poor outcome.

The findings of the 28-patient, phase II study will be reported April 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver, Colorado.

"This is a malignancy for which there is no standard of care," says the study's principal investigator Dr. Tanios Bekaii-Saab, assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology, and a medical oncologist who specializes in gastrointestinal cancers at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

"And while it is a small study, it provides a strong rational for developing this agent further in larger trials either alone or in combination with other drugs, with the hope that we can establish a new standard of care for biliary cancers in the near future."

Bekaii-Saab noted that the average progression-free survival achieved by patients in the study was one of the highest reported in the literature for this malignancy with many patients gaining weight in a disease that is typically associated with significant weight loss. The drug, which is administered orally, seems to be well tolerated with mild toxicities.

The agent belongs to a class of drugs called protein kinase inhibitors. This particular drug targets a protein kinase called MEK 1/2, which is part of a chemical pathway that is often damaged in many biliary cancer cases, Bekaii-Saab says.

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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
darrell.ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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