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Ovarian cancer drug candidate passes early clinical test

Experimental medicine uses seek-and-destroy technique against tumor cells

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3:02pm, April 8, 2013

WASHINGTON — A newfangled drug candidate featuring an antibody that totes a tumor-killing toxin can knock down ovarian cancer in some patients. In the first test of the experimental drug in people, scientists gave it to 44 patients with advanced ovarian cancer that was resistant to the effects of platinum-based chemotherapy, a standard treatment.

One patient showed what the researchers called a “complete response,” meaning any tumors became undetectable. Four other patients had a partial response, which means their tumors shrank by at least 30 percent, said Joyce Liu, a medical oncologist at Harvard Medical School. The results, presented April 6 at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, represent a considerable improvement for a patient group with few treatment options.

“Most [ovarian] cancers will recur and become increasingly resistant to chemotherapy,” Liu said.

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