The US-based ImClone Systems and Bristol-Myers Squibb have announced that a first line phase III study of Erbitux combined with platinum-based chemotherapy have increased survival chances among cancer patients with recurrent and metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).
Worldwide SCCHN is the most common form of cancer of the head and neck, and approximately two-thirds of all patients are diagnosed with advanced disease. It is also one of the commonest cancers seen in India.
Erbitux is a new type of cancer drug used to treat cancer of the colon or rectum that has spread to other parts of the body.
Erbitux is a monoclonal antibody that targets a protein called the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). EGFR is found at abnormally high levels on the surface of many types of cancer cells.
Antibodies are the body's natural defence mechanism against infection. They are substances produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance such as a bacteria, virus, or toxin. Monoclonal antibodies are antibodies produced in a laboratory to target a very specific portion of foreign substances (antigen). Because of their precision, they are considered ideal treatment and also have fewer side effects.
ImClone Systems and Bristol-Myers Squibb studied more than 400 patients to test the efficacy of the new regimen.
"We are excited by the results of this study, as it is the first large, randomised clinical trial to examine the impact of Erbitux treatment in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy on overall survival in metastatic head and neck cancer," said Eric Rowinsky, chief medical officer and senior vice president of ImClone Systems.
"Erbitux has already demonstrated improved survival when combined with radiation in locoregionally advanced head and neck cancer."
"When Erbitux was approved for head and neck cancer, it was not only hailed as the first new treatment for the disease in 45 years, but it was also the first drug approved to show a survival benefit in this population. Just one year later, this study adds to the growing body of clinical evidence with Erbitux in these patients," said Martin Birkhofer, vice president, oncology global medical affairs, Bristol-Myers Squibb.