Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A new "trojan horse" approach to treating cancer has shown promise in its first clinical trial run, a new study says.
Nearly 15 percent of patients with ovarian and lung cancer either had their tumors shrink or stop growing after taking tisotumab vedotin, or TV, according to a study published Thursday in The Lancet Oncology.
"What is so exciting about this treatment is that its mechanism of action is completely novel -- it acts like a Trojan horse to sneak into cancer cells and kill them from the inside," Johann de Bono, a researcher Regius Professor of Cancer Research at The Institute of Cancer Research and study author, said in a news release. "Our early study shows that it has the potential to treat a large number of different types of cancer, and particularly some of those with very poor survival rates."
As the name suggests, TV kills cancer cells from within by leaking out a toxic substance.
Of the other patients who showed positive responses after taking TV, 27 percent had bladder cancer, 26.5 percent had cervical cancer, 14 percent had ovarian cancer, 13 percent had esophageal, 13 percent had non-small cell lung and 7 percent had endometrial cancer.
On average, those results lasted between 5.7 months and 9.5 months for some patients in the study. The treatments did, however, lead to nose bleeds, fatigue, nausea and eye problems in some patients.
"TV has manageable side effects, and we saw some good responses in the patients in our trial, all of whom had late-stage cancer that had been heavily pre-treated with other drugs and who had run out of other options," de Bono said. "We have already begun additional trials of this new drug in different tumor types and as a second-line treatment for cervical cancer, where response rates were particularly high. We are also developing a test to pick out the patients most likely to respond."
Researchers are now testing TV in trials with other cancers like bowel, pancreatic, squamous cell lung and head and neck. They're also giving it another trial run at cervical cancer.
"It's exciting to see the potential shown by TV across a range of hard-to-treat cancers. I look forward to seeing it progress in the clinic and hope it can benefit patients who currently have run out of treatment options," said Paul Workman, chief executive and professor at The Institute of Cancer Research.