The Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, has granted funding to a new study where patients with advanced cancer will test a new therapy called bermekibab, aimed at reducing their symptoms and improving their quality of life. In particular, they’ll be looking to see if the treatment offers benefits to patients with advanced ovarian, pancreatic or lung cancer. This is a new approach that looks not to cure the cancer but keep it stable.
The team is led by Dr Barry Laird at the University of Edinburgh and the study is run in collaboration with X-Biotech, the US-based biotechnology company which developed bermekibab. Bermekibab is a form of immunotherapy and works by blocking IL-1alpha, a molecule of the immune system that causes inflammation and pain, and also allows tumours to grow and spread. In advanced cases of cancer, the disease can hijack the immune system, causing life-altering physical symptoms such as pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, and muscle wasting; reducing these symptoms can greatly improve daily living for patients.
Patients will be recruited from five sites across the UK: Edinburgh Cancer Centre, the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London. Recruitment will open later this year.
Bermekibab was evaluated in a recent trial for colorectal cancer, with very promising results. We hope to see the same results for ovarian cancer patients in due course.