Dual Drugs for Liver Cancer

Liver cancer treated with mTOR inhibitors

(RxWiki News) The class of cancer drug that stops a certain cell growth pathway called mTOR has been studied for many years, being one of the earliest cancer pathways identified.

Research in a series of laboratory experiments on mice combined two different types of the same anti cancer drugs that affect the same pathway, and scientists were surprised by the strength of the results.

Not only were the tumor cells killed, the cancer's progress began to reverse.

"Ask your oncologist about mTOR inhibitors."

Liver cancer seems to strongly involve the growth pathway mTOR, and more than half of tumor cells are involved. Research stalled when individual testing of the new drugs, everolimus and an experimental cousin called BEZ235, didn't seem to have any effect.

But an experiment where both everolimus and BEZ235 were given to treat liver cancer in mice showed drastic results, and the scientists working for the pharmaceutical corporation Novartis are not certain how to explain the difference.

While the research is still pending, a clinical trial has begun in the United States to judge the effects in the treatment of liver cancer in patients when combined.

Funding for the trial was provided by Novartis.

The clinical coordinator Sara Kozma noted that "because rapamycin and its derivatives are already approved for the treatment of other diseases, their combination to BEZ235, would be a rapid strategy to test the efficacy of this drug and fast track its approval for clinical use."

Results from the laboratory experiments on mice using mTOR inhibitors were published online in the May 1, 2012 edition of journal Science Translational Medicine.

Research was performed in a joint collaboration between the University of Barcelona and Novartis.

Review Date: 
May 9, 2012