Several drugs designed to cut off a tumor's blood supply, including the widely publicized Endostatin, are showing promise in early (phase I) clinical trials, according to reports from a meeting on new cancer drugs that took place earlier this month in Amsterdam. Researchers at the Symposium on New Drugs in Cancer Therapy reported on seven different anti-angiogenesis drugs.
Angiogenesis (blood vessel growth) inhibitors are one of the new kinds of biological cancer therapies that target the underlying mechanisms that allow a cell or tumor to grow. The seven drugs discussed at the Amsterdam meeting are among at least 17 anti-angiogenesis agents now in clinical trials.
While all the drugs discussed at the meeting have still to be tested in much larger groups of patients, the early results for Endostatin show that it is safe in humans and that it has reduced blood flow to some tumors. Additionally, in several patients treated with the drug, tumors have either shrunk or not grown larger, according to a statement from EntreMed, maker of the Endostatin.
Endostatin received media attention in 1998 with the news that it successfully reversed tumors in laboratory mice, and again in fall 1999 when the first three phase I trials began. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is sponsoring two of these trials, one at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and one at the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center in Madison. The third, sponsored by EntreMed, is taking place at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. All three trials are nearing completion.
When these initial trials are finished, NCI will review the complete data in concert with the investigators and EntreMed, according to James Pluda, M.D., a senior clinical investigator in NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. He said that decisions regarding NCI-sponsored phase II trials will be made at that time possibly early in 2001. EntreMed said in its statement that the company is "actively planning the continuation" of clinical trials.
The 11th Symposium on New Drugs in Cancer Therapy, sponsored by the NCI, the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is taking place November 7-11, 2000, in Amsterdam.
More information on the Endostatin phase I trials, as reported at the meeting, is available on the EntreMed Web site. In addition, abstracts from the Amsterdam meeting appear on the AACR Web site with reports on the following drugs:
- Angiostatin (EntreMed), abstracts 046, 261
- Endostatin (EntreMed), abstracts 258-260, 577, 578
- SU5416 (Sugen), abstracts 262-265, 275, 375, 580
- SU6668 (Sugen), abstracts 265, 266, 581
- AngiozymeTM (Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals), abstract 267
- Cilengitide (E. Merck), abstract 296
- HuMV833 (PDL), abstracts 270, 579