Bladder cancer is the ninth leading cause of cancer worldwide. The National Cancer Institute predicts that by 2014, within the United Stated, there will be 74,690 new cases of bladder cancer and 15,580 deaths because of it. The mortality rate of bladder cancer is almost 50%.
Bladder cancer has three origins, the transitional cell cancers, which are the most common, the squamous cell and adenocarcinomas. Although people with urinary bladder cancer are treated, the recurrence rates of cancer are extremely high for even the smallest and the most superficial ones.
There is a protein which is expressed on the cells of the cancer that arises in the bladder. This protein, known as PD-L1, is what makes cancer bypass the immune system and thrive in the body. Scientists in Queen Mary University of London have reported a groundbreaking advancement in the treatment for advanced bladder cancers after almost thirty years. The new treatment targets the protein PD-L1 through an antibody called MPDL3280A.
Lead author, Tom Powles, who is Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, said, “This study is a hugely exciting step forward in the search for alternative advanced bladder cancer treatment. For decades chemotherapy has been the only option, with a poor outcome and many patients too ill to cope with it. Not only has this investigational drug had a striking response rate, we can target this therapy for patients by screening specific protein PD-L1.”
The phase-1 of the trial saw administration of the antibody MPDL3280A, to 68 patients who had advanced PD-L1 expressing cancers and had stopped responding to the conventional chemotherapies. The administration of antibodies showed significant reduction in the size of the tumor in 43% of the patients in just three weeks , which rose to 52 in twelve weeks. This therapy proved to be miraculous to two patients who were completely cured. 11% of those participants who had cancers that did not express PD-L1, also showed some improvement.
“We now need larger trials to confirm our findings, and as this drug has been given breakthrough designation status by the FDA, we hope to fast track this process so we can begin to give hope to the thousands of people affected by advanced bladder cancer each year,” Powles concluded.