New ‘killer’ cancer treatment stops one third of tumours growing

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The four most common cancers in the UK are lung cancer, bowel cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. In recent days a new treatment called AFM24 has been found to be able to stop one in three tumours growing in trials. The treatment has been found to work in those with advanced forms of lung, bowel, and pancreatic cancers. Although not one of the most common cancers, pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest.

Conducted by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London, the trial involved 24 patients with tumours positive for a key protein in cancer growth known as EFGR.

Results from the trial showed AFM24 was able to target the protein without re-engineering the cells of the patient.

Of the 24 patients, eight saw their cancers stop growing.

Meanwhile two patients with bowel cancer and one with lung cancer saw their tumours stop growing or shrink.

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Chief Executive of the ICR Professor Kristian Helin said: “This new treatment is highly innovative because it finds a way to direct natural killer cells within the immune system to tumours without requiring complex and expensive re-engineering of a patient’s own cell.

“So far, we’ve only seen initial findings in a small group of patients, but the results look promising, and we’re optimistic that this could be a new type of immunotherapy for cancers that are otherwise hard to treat.”

Meanwhile Dr Juanita Lopez, leader of the trial for the ICR added: “This treatment is still highly experimental, and our trial is at an early stage, but we are excited by its potential.”

Further research is therefore required before the treatment can be rolled out on the NHS and in other settings.

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Meanwhile, there is hope for progress in the treatment of the most common cancer in men, prostate cancer.

Over 9000 men are diagnosed each year with a cancer that is hard to spot early as it doesn’t present with symptoms in its early stages.

The condition is very difficult to treat once it has metastasised and spread to other parts of the body.

However, this hope after results of a new drug known as Olaparib showed promise; clinical trials have found it has the ability to double the average survival time of prostate cancer patients.

This is one of several breakthroughs made in prostate cancer research in recent years.

Recently, a phase three trial of a drug known as darolutamide could extend the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer.

Furthermore, another trial found if abiraterone and ADT were used in combination they could increase the number of men who survived for six years; the rate increased from 69 to 82 percent.

With regard to Olaparib, CEO of Prostate Cancer Research UK, Oliver Kemp said: “In the UK, we’re talking about 500 patients a year whose lives could be saved by Olaparib.”

Interest is also high in a new type of treatment called Radionuclide therapies where drugs attach to tumours.

Kemp said: “That’s the one where when we look at the results, we think, ‘Wow’.

“You could be sitting here a few weeks away from death, and that will extend your life quite significantly.”

As with all cancers, the sooner a person knows they have the condition, the better; Prostate Cancer UK has a 30-second checker on their website where men can check their risk by answering three questions.



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