Nivolumab, an immunotherapy drug currently used to treat cancers like melanoma and kidney cancer, has shown promising results in the fight against advanced liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), said the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) on Monday (Oct 16).
In a study led by the NCCS and conducted in 11 countries including Sngapore, nivolumab was evaluated as a first-line treatment for patients who had not received sorafenib, the current standard treatment for HCC.
Nivolumab was also assessed as a second-line treatment for patients who did not respond well or did not tolerate sorafenib.
Results from the study showed that nivolumab, which enhances the body’s immune response against cancer cells, has a “manageable safety profile” and “acceptable tolerability”, leading researchers to conclude its potential as a treatment for advanced HCC, said the NCCS.
More than 70 per cent of HCC cases in Southeast Asia result from chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus, according to the NCSS. It is the second most common cause of cancer mortality in the region.
Currently, oral sorafenib is the only approved drug for HCC patients. Should the patient not respond well to it, the only other drug available is regorafenib. The median survival of patients on sorafenib is about six months.
Regorafenib, which is prescribed as a second-line treatment for patients who can tolerate sorafenib and had good liver function, showed 2.5 months’ survival, according to the NCCS.
While nivolumab, which is administered intravenously, may not work for every HCC patient, its effect is “particularly impressive” when it does, said Dr Choo Su-Pin, co-author of the study which was published in The Lancet in April.
“We have patients who were told that they had only six months to live and they are now still very well and alive with minimal cancer after more than two years because of this drug,” she said.
“Moving forward, apart from placing nivolumab in the earlier stages of liver cancer, there are various studies combining nivolumab with other immune-oncology agents, with target therapies or with other modalities like liver-directed radioembolisation, in hope of increasing the anti-cancer efficacy in more patients,” added Dr Choo who is also a senior consultant medical oncologist and chief of gastrointestinal oncology at NCCS.
The team has begun a Phase-3 randomised study to compare the effectiveness of nivolumab with sorafenib as a first-line treatment in patients with advanced HCC. The study is expected to completed in October 2018.
(Source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com) SINGAPORE: Nivolumab, an immunotherapy drug currently used to treat cancers like melanoma and kidney cancer, has shown promising results in the fight against advanced liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), said the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) on Monday (Oct 16). In a study led by the NCCS and conducted in 11 countries […]