Wyeth kidney cancer drug shows promise in trial
By Toni Clarke
ATLANTA (Reuters) – Wyeth said on Sunday that interim
results of a late-stage trial of its experimental kidney cancer
drug significantly increased survival in patients compared to
Patients with advanced kidney cancer who took the drug,
temsirolimus, had a median survival time of 10.9 months,
compared to a survival time of 7.3 months for patients who took
the standard therapy.
Data from the late-stage, or Phase III, trial were
presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of
Clinical Oncology in Atlanta.
Temsirolimus blocks a protein known as mTOR, which is a
signaling protein that regulates cell growth and the growth of
There are about 39,000 cases of kidney cancer diagnosed in
the United States each year, according to the American Cancer
Society. Patients with the most advanced form of the disease
have a five-year survival rate of 20 percent.
All patients in the study had advanced kidney cancer that
had spread. One group got temsirolimus alone, one group was
given standard therapy alone and one group received
temsirolimus and standard therapy.
The median survival for the temsirolimus alone group was
10.9 months; for the combination group it was 8.4 months and
for the standard therapy group it was 7.3 months.
“Until just a few years ago there were no promising drugs
for kidney cancer,” said Dr. Gary Hudes, director of the
genitourinary malignancy program at Fox Chase Cancer Center and
the study’s lead author.
The drug was tested in patients whose cancer was so
advanced that they would not qualify for most other clinical
Recently, U.S. regulators approved Pfizer Inc.’s kidney
cancer drug Sutent and a drug called Nexavar from Bayer AG and
“With both launches still in their infancy, it is still not
certain how the treatment paradigm will ultimately be defined,”
said Phil Nadeau, an analyst at Cowen & Co., in a recent
Prior to the introduction of Sutent and Nexavar, the
standard of care in metastatic renal cancer was high doses of
several toxic drugs.
According to Hudes, the long-term goal for the emerging
class of targeted agents for kidney cancer is to determine the
optimal way to administer them, either in combination or