Early data for an investigational device that specifically targets rapidly growing cancer cells with intermediate frequency electrical fields, called Tumor-Treating Fields (TTFields), has found that it more than doubled the median overall survival rates in patients with the most common and aggressive type of malignant brain tumor.
The device, called the Novo-TTF, uses electrical fields to disrupt tumor growth by interfering with cell division of cancerous cells, causing them to stop proliferating and die off instead of dividing and growing.
Healthy brain cells rarely divide and have different electrical properties than cancerous brain cells. This allows the device to target cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells.
The 10 patients who were being treated with the device were suffering from recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of malignant brain tumor.
Researchers found that among the patients treated with the Novo-TTF, the median length of time to disease progression was 26.1 weeks; progression free survival at six months was 50 percent; and median overall survival was 62.2 weeks.
This is more than double the rates reported in historical data - approximately 9.5 weeks, 15.3 percent, and 29.3 weeks, respectively.
"The novel mechanism of action of the Novo-TTF relies on the physical properties of the cancer cells, their shape and size, rather than the chemical make-up. We believe that this distinction enables the device to stop local proliferation and metastasis of cancer, which would explain the efficacy observed in these early findings," said Dr. Elion Kirson lead author and Vice President of Research and Development, NovoCure.
"Based on our preliminary research, we believe that there is a high probability that TTFields may prove to be an effective and safe approach to treating a large number of human cancers," Dr Kirson added.
This research, which includes the results of cell culture, animal and early phase human trials, appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).