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Every year cancer experts from across the world come together for The American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting (ASCO). The aim of ASCO is to share knowledge and provide updates on cancer research. By working together we hope to develop new cancer treatments. In today’s blog, we will discuss some of the early results from osteosarcoma clinical trials that were shared at ASCO.

Finding a new drug target

Researchers are working toward finding drugs that target specific protein markers found on osteosarcoma cells. One of these markers is CX43. Tests in the laboratory have shown that a drug called AIMB-0168 may be able to stop osteosarcoma growth by binding to CX43.  Researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University, are now testing the drug in a clinical trial. So far fourteen people have been given the drug at different doses. The drug has been well-tolerated and importantly, the drug seems to be showing some effect. The cancer has stopped growing in five of the participants and two participants have shown a partial response. In other words, their cancer has gotten smaller.  This trial is still in its early stages, so more work needs to be done to see if this drug could be effective in treating some osteosarcomas. The trial will next test higher doses of the drug.

What can we learn when a trial doesn’t go to plan?

The Children’s Oncology groups led a clinical trial looking at a drug called trastuzumab deruxtecan (T-DXd). T-DXd had shown promising results when tested in a laboratory in osteosarcoma cells with the protein marker HER2 on their surface. HER2 is a marker often found in people with osteosarcoma. Nine people with this marker were enrolled on to the study. Unfortunately, osteosarcoma got worse in eight of the nine. This suggests that the drug is not effective. The researchers are now working to understand why this drug did not work. They also hope that their work will shed light on future drug development and how we can target HER2.

Can we make chemotherapy more effective?

People with osteosarcoma are often given chemotherapy before they have any surgery. Researchers at Sun Yat-Sen University are looking to improve the effectiveness of this chemotherapy by giving it with other drugs. One of these drugs is Camrelizumab, a drug that harnesses the immune system to kill cancer cells. Sixty-five patients took part in a clinical trial looking at these drugs. The drugs were found to be safe when given together. The side effects were also well-tolerated by most patients. The next step of the trial is to assess the long-term effect of Camrelizumab and if it can improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.  

These three trials are a snapshot of the work that is being done on osteosarcoma. Each trial increases our understanding of the cancer and how we can treat it. To find out more about clinical trials visit our clinical trial toolkit. You can also search for trials using ONTEX.