Drug discovery combats ovarian cancer

June 5th, 2011 - 10:09 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jun 5 (IANS) A drug discovery can increase an ovarian cancer patients’ life expectancy by up to eight months — the biggest breakthrough in 20 years of its treatment.

British researchers found Avastin, which is used to treat breast and bowel cancers, is also effective against ovarian cancer.

The disease has been called the silent killer because it often has no symptoms in the early stages and in 80 percent of cases is not detected until it has spread. Currently, the only treatment is chemotherapy following surgery.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “It is the first glimmer of hope that there are significant advancements in treatments for ovarian cancer on the horizon.”

“There is a moral imperative to ensure Avastin is fast-tracked through the necessary regulatory processes,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

The research involved more than 1,500 women across Europe with advanced ovarian cancer.

All had their tumours removed and received chemotherapy, but those who were also given Avastin, which starves tumours of the blood they need to grow and spread, lived on an average 7.8 months longer than the control group.

Lead investigator Charlie Gourley, from the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, said: “We would like to be able to make ovarian cancer a chronic, rather than fatal, disease.”

Roche, which manufactures the drug, has applied to the European Medicines Agency for a licence to use it to treat ovarian cancer, which means it could be available before the end of the year.

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