Cancer cure breakthrough as drugs get rid of ‘forgotten killer’ bladder cancer tumours
Josh Layton Sunday Mirror 1 June 2014
After 30 years without a new treatment, new drugs have been likened to “precision-guided bombs that hunt and destroy hostile cells”Overall, ests showed “immunotherapy” drugs shrank tumours in nearly half of patients suffering advanced stages of the disease. And in seven per cent of cases the tumours disappeared completely.43 per cent of patients who took part in trials showed positive effects against the disease – known as the “forgotten killer”.
https://youtube.googleapis.com/v/lAFQLlYnFUk&source=udsEvery year 10,400 people in the UK are diagnosed with bladder cancer – the seventh most common cancer. It claimed 5,081 lives in 2011, and survival rates are worsening in England, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Urology.
Scientists have failed to find a new treatment for almost three decades – but the new drugs have been likened to “precision-guided bombs that hunt and destroy hostile cells”.
Sixty-eight patients took part in the trials of “investigational immunotherapy MPDL3280A” through Cancer Research UK’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre.
Professor Peter Johnson, of Cancer Research, said: “It’s exciting to see a potential new treatment for bladder cancer patients who have been waiting a long time for new therapies.
“The progress we’ve made in harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer is an important step forward.
“Cancer can only grow by finding a way to escape detection by the immune system. One way is to trigger a shut-off switch on immune cells when they get close to the tumour.
“This new treatment blocks the cancer cell’s ability to use this switch, allowing the immune system to recognise and destroy the cancer.”
Further tests are now being developed to identify people most receptive to the treatment.
Full results of the study were presented at Queen Mary, University of London.
Lead investigator Professor Thomas Powles said: “We are excited by these early-stage results which show promising outcomes for patients with advanced urothelial bladder cancer.
“Bladder cancer is the seventh most common form of cancer in the UK and there have been no new treatment options for over 30 years.
“It is therefore imperative that we continue to investigate emerging therapeutic options, particularly in advanced forms of the disease where the outlook for patients is particularly poor.”
Bladder cancer is especially difficult to treat, with a poorer outlook for people in the advanced stages of the condition than those treated earlier.
The number of deaths has not corresponded to a fall in new cases and is higher than other countries in Europe with similar incidence rates.
About 90 per cent of bladder cancers in the UK are urothelial, which means they have developed in cells which line the bladder and may come into contact with harmful waste products in urine.
The new class of immunotherapy drugs, developed by biotech company Roche, promises a fresh arsenal in the war on cancer and is expected to provide hope for patients and a multi-billion pound windfall for drugs companies.
Citigroup analyst Andrew Baum said: “Tumours are damn smart. They’re like Whac-A-Mole… as soon as you block one pathway they find another.
“But, with a little help, the immune system is the one thing smart enough to keep up.”