Cancer could be combated with berzosertib a study has found. The new drug targets a cancer cell’s ability to repair its DNA, halting tumour growth. The study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology assessed the safety of the medicine.
Study author Professor Johann de Bono, head of drug development at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our new clinical trial is the first to test the safety of a brand new family of targeted cancer drugs in people, and it’s encouraging to see some clinical responses even in at this early stage.”
Damage to DNA in cells is believed to be the man cause of cancer, but experts think finding ways to prevent cancer cells from being able to repair their DNA could stop the disease from spreading.
In the first phase of the trial, researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research in London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust gave berzosertib, either on its own or with chemotherapy, to 40 participants with every advanced tumours.
They were then able to establish the doses at which the drug was safe for use in further clinical trials, and found berzosertib on its own caused only mild side effects.
The researchers also found the drug stopped tumours growing in half of participants given the drug when administered on its own or with chemotherapy.
The most benefits was seen in participants who received chemotherapy, with 15 of 21 participants seeing their disease stabilise.
One patient with advanced bowel cancer saw his tumours disappear and was able to stay cancer-free for more than two years after taking the drug.
Another woman with advanced ovarian cancer, whose disease had returned after treatment with another drug, saw her tumours shrink after taking berzosertib alongside chemotherapy.
Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, added: “Targeting a cancer’s ability to repair its DNA is a fundamentally important avenue of cancer research which has delivered some of the most important advances against the disease in recent years.
“It’s exciting to see the first clinical trial of a drug targeting a key player in the DNA repair process have such promising results, and I look forward to the results of further studies testing the benefit of this new family of targeted treatments.”
Further trials will now be carried out on the drug.
The researchers hope it can be developed into a new targeted treatment for cancer patients.
Cancer treatment at the monent
At the moment, surgery is the first treatment to try for most types of cancer.
Solid tumours can usually be surgically removed.
The NHS adds: “Two other commonly used treatment methods are chemotherapy – powerful cancer-killing medicines and radiotherapy – the controlled use of high-energy X-rays.”
If you suspect you have cancer, contact your GP.