with metastatic bladder cancer have few treatment options
after failure of chemotherapy until now.
May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the
immunological drug Atezolizumab to treat metastatic bladder
cancer. The decision came following results of an
international, multisite phase II clinical study published in
the March 4 edition of the Lancet. Mayo Clinicís Florida
campus was one of the largest sites involved in the study.
Richard Joseph, a Mayo Clinic oncologist involved in the
study, says the drug works by helping the patientís own
immune system fight cancer.
cancer is the ninth most common cancer, causing 165,000 deaths
worldwide annually," says Dr. Joseph, whose research is
part of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program within
the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.
now, treatment options for patients with metastatic bladder
cancer were limited. Chemotherapy has been the only option for
these patients, but many people are unable to tolerate the
full course of chemotherapy, due to its toxicity," he
says. "New approaches, such as immunotherapy medications
like this, are desperately needed."
310 patients involved in the study, 15 to 20 percent had
significant and lasting response, says Dr. Joseph, which is
part of what led to the FDAís fast approval. "The
response rates lead us to believe these patients will have
very long and durable remissions," he adds.
can avoid immune system surveillance by expressing genes that
turn off the immune system and prevent it from recognizing
them. Atezolizumab inhibits one such gene present on the
surface of bladder cancer tumor cells, thereby allowing the
immune system to recognize and attack the tumor.
drugs have also recently been approved for melanoma, kidney
cancer and lung cancer.