Erbitux Helps Colon Cancer Patients Survive –Findings from one study
Colon cancer patients who have a certain genetic profile can now survive with the help of the drug Erbitux. The information was released on Wednesday after a final revision from a global trial.
A second research [trial, from Britain,] is [also] being carried on Erbitux and the verdict is still awaited by cancer specialists who are meeting [at a congress] in Berlin. The benefits of a combination of Erbitux with chemotherapy will result in a first line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer patients.
The international trial[, named CRYSTAL, showed that the chance for survival for patients who had normal, or wild-type, version of a gene called KRAS was 23.5 months. This was encouraging as the survival chance on chemotherapy alone was only 20 months. The same study conducted a year ago did not prove the statistical significance of a similar result as the number of patients tested was too restricted.
This is an example of so-called personalized medicine – tailoring treatment according to the patient's genetic make-up.
Eric Van Cutsem, who is the principal investigator from Belgium's University Hospital [at] Gasthuisberg, stated to the ECCO-ESMO cancer congress that "It is extremely rewarding to achieve this result for the first time with an EGFR-targeted therapy added to standard chemotherapy".
The market for EGFR drugs is at present dominated by Erbitux. This drug blocks a protein called epidermal growth factor concerned in cancer cell growth. The sales for the drug in the year 2008 were $1.6 billion and this is ten times more than [the competing drug] Vectibix [– claimed by its manufacturer, Amgen, to be similarly effective, while offering dosing advantages..]
Wolfgang Wein who is the head of oncology at German drug maker Merck remarked to Reuters, "It shows the importance of personalizing cancer care, which is more health economic. It's a further endorsement of personalized medicine and this is clearly where the train is heading."