Recurrent endometrial cancer with a molecular alteration may respond to targeted therapy

06/04/04

NEW ORLEANS - The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center offers these news items presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.

The first test of a targeted therapy to treat recurrent endometrial (uterine) cancer will open in June at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, based on new research that has documented molecular alterations in the cancer.

The preclinical investigation found that most human endometrial cancer, as well as cancer cells lines, overexpress a molecule, mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), that coordinates growth and cell proliferation.

The research, led by clinical fellow Brian Slomovitz, M.D., in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology, suggests that the drug RAD001, which targets mTOR, may help patients with recurrent endometrial cancer. Animal studies by other investigators have shown that mTOR inhibitors can decrease the size of uterine tumors, Slomovitz says. RAD001, an agent used as an immunosuppressant in organ transplants, is now being tested in a variety of blood and solid cancers.

The investigation is important because there have been few new therapies available to treat endometrial cancer, the most common gynecological cancer, says Slomovitz. Although the cancer is often found early, when it can be successfully treated, advanced and recurrent cases of the cancer account for about 7,000 deaths each year in the United States. Both the incidence and the mortality associated with endometrial cancer are on the rise, he says, for reasons that are not understood.

The Phase II clinical trial, supported by Novartis, the manufacturer of RAD001, will enroll 35 patients at M. D. Anderson, and is being led by Judith Wolf, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology.

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