Cancer :: CTRC enrolls first patients in Novel Phase II study for sarcoma — Living virus destroys cancer cell

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center Institute for Drug Development, in collaboration with Oncolytics Biotech Inc., a biotechnology company, has enrolled the first two patients in a new Phase II clinical study for patients with various types of sarcomas that have metastasized to the lung.

CTRC is one of only three sites in the United States, and the only in Texas, enrolling patients. The novel anti-cancer therapy, REOLYSIN?, is a living virus, not a chemotherapy drug, that is toxic to cancer cells but not harmful to normal cells.

This novel therapy, using a living virus, is the first of its kind available at CTRC. According to Monica Mita, MD, principal investigator at the CTRC Institute for Drug Development, REOLYSIN??s name was derived from the human reovirus, a mild virus that occurs naturally in the environment.

?This novel therapy has shown success because the reovirus replicates in and destroys the cancer cells within the patient?s body,? said Mita. ?Cancer cells have several molecular and genetic abnormalities. In normal, healthy cells, the reovirus is unable to reproduce because of an enzyme named PKR. The enzyme is suppressed in cancer cells, and therefore the reovirus can replicate in the cancer cell and kill it.?

?REOLYSIN? typifies the true targeted therapy approach that seeks to use fundamental differences between cancer and normal cells as the basis for effective anti-cancer approaches and we are thus very excited about the this study,? said Francis Giles, MD, director of the CTRC Institute for Drug Development.

Eligible patients are those who have a bone or soft tissue sarcoma that has spread to the lung and who are deemed by their physician to be unresponsive to or untreatable by standard therapies. These include patients with osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma family tumors, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, synovial sarcoma, fibrosarcoma and leiomyosarcoma.

The second patient to enroll in the study was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2005 and 11 months later received an additional diagnosis for a rare form of sarcoma. A specialist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston referred her to CTRC, where Mita suggested the REOLYSIN? study. After discussing it with her family and doctor, she decided it was the best treatment option for her.

?This new therapy gives me another option in the fight against my cancer,? said the 35-year-old mother of three who travels to San Antonio for treatment with her husband and children. ?Before coming to CTRC, I had already been through one chemotherapy cycle for this disease, and I got the impression that no one really knew what to do with me or how to treat my cancer. REOLYSIN? was a less toxic option for me.?

“We are delighted, but not surprised, with the rate of accrual at the CTRC Institute for Drug Development,? said Dr. Brad Thompson, President and CEO of Oncolytics Biotech Inc. ?As an evolving oncology company, the placement of Oncolytics? very innovative and sophisticated studies is of critical importance and we are delighted to have the CTRC Institute for Drug Development as our collaborator. This study is expected to yield information that will guide the late stage clinical development program for REOLYSIN?.?

REOLYSIN? demonstrated success against tumors during earlier phases of scientific testing. This study (REO 014) is a Phase II, open-label, single agent study with the primary objective of measuring tumor responses and the duration of those responses, and of describing any evidence of anti-tumor activity. REOLYSIN? will be given intravenously to patients for five consecutive days. Patients may receive additional five-day cycles of therapy every four weeks for a maximum of eight cycles. Up to 52 patients will be enrolled in the study.

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