News Briefs: Smart bomb’ drugs show promise against cancers

Two new "smart bomb" drugs that target specific proteins needed for tumor growth have produced promising results in clinical trials against a number of cancers, scientists said at a recent American Association for Cancer Research conference in Miami, as reported by Reuters.

AstraZeneca’s tablet Iressa and ImClone’s competing injectable product C225 are the first in a new class of drugs that block the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

Phase II trial results showed Iressa succeeded in shrinking lung tumors by at least half in 18.7% of seriously ill patients who failed to respond to conventional chemotherapy. In 52.9% of patients the disease stabilized; in 34% the cancer had not grown after four months.

The overall response rate was "much higher" than with standard chemotherapy, while the side effects — primarily diarrhea and skin rash — were minimal, said Jose Baselga, MD, of Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain.