New drug combination discovery makes curative surgery possible for liver cancer patients
In a recent trial, researchers discovered that combining the immunotherapy medication nivolumab with the kinase-inhibitor drug cabozantinib can allow certain liver cancer patients who would otherwise be deemed surgical candidates to have curative surgery.
Results published in the journal Nature Cancer by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center described the benefits of this drug combination.
Among 15 people with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the study who could not be treated previously with surgery, the drugs allowed 12 patients to undergo successful surgical removal of their cancer. Five of these patients had only 10% or less of their tumour remaining after the drug treatment.
The combination therapy offers a much-needed treatment for HCC, which makes up more than 90% of all primary lover cancers and is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Fewer than 30% of HCC cases globally cam be surgically resected at the time of diagnosis, either because the liver is too damaged or cancer has spread into tissues that make surgery too difficult.
"The patients who are enrolled in this study are typically just thought of as incurable in the current conventional sense, so the fact that we saw these responses was really exciting because this suggests this strategy could be adopted for very challenging incurable diseases," says Won Jin Ho, M.D., assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Jopkins University School of Medicine an first author of the study.
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