Kidney Drug Works for Other Cancers

Soft tissue sarcoma treatment with pazopanib

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Despite being tailor-made for specific targets, some of the newer cancer drugs are useful in other types of cancer. A new kidney cancer drug has shown to be effective in metastatic cancer.

Some cancers have similar genetics, and those that need blood vessel growth to fuel their expansion during metastasis share a lot of molecular needs that kidney cancers also have. 

"Ask your oncologist about clinical trial participation."

A team of researchers from the Netherlands working with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group found that the drug, Votrient (pazopanib) was effective in stopping growth for a short amount of time. 

Data from the study showed that using Votrient improved survival by about 2 months, from 10.7 on placebo to 12.5 months on Votrient. Initial use of Votrient stopped cancers from growing for about three months.

While increasing survival by several months is a worthy accomplishment, it remains to be seen whether that outweighs criticism over the drug's cost. With time, researchers may refine appropriate drug combinations and treatments for better results.

The study enrolled 369 patients with metastatic soft-tissue sarcomas, and all patients had tried chemotherapy without success.

Most of the patients were given pazopanib, and 123 patients were given only placebo.

As authors stated in their conclusion,"Progression-free survival improved in patients of all ages and for most histological subgroups. Pazopanib is the first active oral agent for patients with soft-tissue sarcomas, excluding liposarcomas and GIST, and is a new treatment option for patients with this rare group of tumours."

Vivien Bramwell, MD from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre wrote an accompanying editorial, saying, "This was a well-designed and conducted study, that showed a 3 month improvement in the primary outcome of progression-free survival. "

"[Yet] the desired effect of palliative chemotherapy is that tumour shrinkage or delay of progression will improve patients' activity or well-being, but this effect was not definitively shown."

The investigators conclude that pazopanib provides a new treatment option, and there will be demand for it, but will funding agencies be willing to, or able to, pay?

First approved for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma back in 2009, common side effects of pazopanib included feeling tired, diarrhea, high blood pressure and nausea. 

Data from the new study on soft tissue cancers showed that serious side effects included blood clotting, collapsed lung and heart damage. 

The study was published in The Lancet on May 16, 2012.

This research was sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline. Financial information from the researchers stated various relationships with GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Roche, PharmaMar, Merck, Sharp, and Dohme, Sanofi, Ariad, Johnson & Johnson, Daiichi-Sankyo, ZioPharm, Amgen, and Pfizer.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 15, 2012
Last Updated:
July 24, 2012