According to an article from Medical Xpress, a recent study suggests that an anti-cancer drug commonly used to treat leukemia may be effective in treating a rare form of ovarian cancer as well. The drug in question is called ponatinib which was first approved for the treatment of leukemia in 2012. The study tested the medication against a rare and deadly form of ovarian cancer called small cell carcinoma of the ovary hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT).
Ovarian cancer can occur in many different variants, and SCCOHT is one of the most dangerous. This type often appears in younger women and girls. It is highly aggressive and the two year survival rate stands at a meager 35%. Because of the many different types, treatment for ovarian cancer can vary widely, but most conventional treatments elicit very little response in SCCOHT. Additionally, many treatment options for this type carry high toxicity and severe side effects. SCCOHT is unusual in that it only affects a single ovary; it is also known for its ability to cause high blood calcium levels, which comes with its own array of complications. To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here.
Clearly, there is a great need for treatment options for SCCOHT that are much safer and effective. Ponatinib represents a treatment option that could improve survival rates. Drug screens and preclinical assessments found that the therapy significantly reduced tumor volume and delayed growth of the tumor in SCCOHT. This information suggests that ponatinib should undergo clinical trials to further evaluate its effectiveness in treating this deadly form of ovarian cancer.
Research about SCCOHT revealed that it was linked to a specific genetic mutation of the SMARCA4 gene, which was deactivated in people with the cancer. The tumors are dependent on receptor tyrosine kinase pathways (RTK). Ponatinib’s mechanism relies on inhibiting these pathways, making it a logical choice for treatment. Now that early testing has demonstrated its capability, Dr. Jessica Lang, one of the co-leading authors of the study, is confident that the drug could lead to much improved outcomes for patients dealing with SCCOHT. The fact that ponatinib is not a experimental candidate also means that approval time will not take as long in comparison to testing a brand new therapy. Hopefully, it will only be a matter of time before the drug is approved to treat SCCOHT.