Phase 1 clinical studies of the experimental anticancer drug lenvatinib indicate that it may achieve at least a partial response in thyroid, endometrial, and renal cancers and melanoma. Lenvatinib is a small molecule drug delivered orally that inhibits a group of tyrosine kinases, a family of enzymes that play critical roles in a variety of cell signaling pathways that, when modified can contribute to the initiation and progression of cancer.
Douglas Ball, MD, of Johns Hopkins University working with an international team of researchers tested the effectiveness of lenvatinib (being developed by Eisai Inc, Woodcliff Lake N.J.) over a 16-month period in patients with advanced, progressive differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) unresponsive to conventional radioiodine therapy. A partial response—characterized by tumor shrinkage and progression-free survival—was observed in 45%-50% of the 58 patients enrolled in the study.
Genetic analysis of the tumor cells identified several mutations that were significantly associated with greater tumor shrinkage and delay of disease progression. Measurements of biochemical markers in patient blood samples also pointed to specific factors linked to the amount of tumor shrinkage following lenvatinib treatment. The researchers propose that these genetic mutations and serum profiles might be useful in identifying patients deriving the greatest benefit from lenvatinib treatment.
American Thyroid Association (ATA)