Health Spain , Salamanca, Tuesday, April 30 of 2013, 16:47

A drug to fight Ewing’s sarcoma

Animal tests provide good results regarding a treatment to fight a rare type of cancer affecting children and young adults

JPA/DICYT The Centro de Investigación del Cáncer (CIC), a cancer research center in Salamanca (Spain), is performing trials with a drug proven effective in preclinical studies against Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of cancer affecting mostly children and young adults. This rare disease primarily has an impact on bones, but also on other soft tissues; scientists think that at least a group of patients with poor prognosis may benefit from a therapy that is also being under studies to fight other neoplasms.

Ewing’s sarcoma survival rate is over 70%, but when metastasis occurs, survival rate drops to less than 20%, so a research team at CIC is trying to identify patients with a worse prognosis in order to find a therapy for them. Some changes in chromosomes determine the onset and progression of this type of cancer and in turn, they lead to secondary changes that “are allowing us to establish groups of patients that may have different prognoses”, as DiCYT was told by Daniel García, researcher at CIC who gave a conference on this matter in April 2013.

With this kind of specificity, more tailored therapeutic strategies can be developed. Actually, CIC researchers found that the group of patients with changes in chromosome 1 had a worse prognosis. In the same research area, they started to conduct studies with a drug called MLN4824, under advanced stage studies in the United States to fight other tumors, such as melanomas and lymphomas; results have been promising so far.

In Ewing’s sarcoma, scientists at CIC have carried out in vitro studies and tests on mice that were previously infected with the disease. In animals, the drug reduces the size of the tumor, so effectiveness in vivo has been proven. Furthermore, “toxicity preclinical tests on humans were successfully performed”, as Daniel García explains.

Consequently, “we are proposing a clinical trial”, the researcher, part of the CIC laboratory led by Enrique de Álava, states. For the time being, the pharmaceutical company that developed this treatment has focused on more prevalent tumors, but scientists at CIC expect to count on its collaboration to make further progress in this research area.