Two kidney cancer drugs proven to be more effective than standard treatment

Researchers have recently tested two kidney cancer drugs, including a drug belonging to the prominent field of immuno-oncology. Both drugs, in separate studies, have been proved to be more effective than a standard treatment currently in use. As a result, kidney cancer patients in an advanced stage of the disease might soon have new treatment options to choose from.

The first of the two studies has concluded that patients taking Opdivo, a medication produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., had an average survival of 25 months, which is 5.4 months more than patients treated with Novartis AG’s Afinitor. Researchers came to know about this survival advantage in July, during an interim safety check.

The drug tested during the second study was Exelixis Inc’s Cabozantinib. The drug was found to possess the ability of keeping kidney cancer in check for a period of 7.4 months before it started getting worse. Afinitor, on the other hand, can keep the disease in check for 3.8 months, which means with Cabozantinib patients could experience a reduction of 42% in the rate of kidney cancer progression. The researchers also noticed a possibility that the drug could even improve survival; however, they indicated that for determining the advantage accurately, longer follow-up would be required.

The two studies discussed above proved that the benefits offered by both treatments are unequivocally more than those from Afinitor. This Friday, findings of both the studies were presented at the European Cancer Congress held in Vienna. Also, they also got published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Here, it must be mentioned that just a fraction of the kidney cancer patients participating in the studies experienced objective response to the two respective treatments. While for Opdivo, just 25% patients had objective response, the percentage was as low as 21% for Cabozantinib. Complete response, where doctors cannot find any evidence of the cancer, was disappointingly elusive.

Experts are saying that it is important to have ways for better identifying the patients who might be benefited from these treatments. They are also talking about the importance of finding ways of combining the drugs with other effective treatments. According to them, taking these steps will help in expanding the “benefit spectrum” of Cabozantinib and Opdivo.