There are two types of osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer: localized or metastasized. If the cancer is localized, or in one area, the 5-year survival rate sits around 70-75%. However, once it spreads, this survival rate unfortunately falls. But according to DocWire News, a therapy called mifamurtide could improve survival rates. Ultimately, researchers determined that using mifamurtide in conjunction with the conventional standard-of-care (chemotherapy) improved progression-free survival (PFS). By preventing cancer progression, the treatment attempts to keep cancer localized and easier to treat. Check out the full study findings published in Journal of Bone Oncology.
According to Cancer Research UK, mifamurtide is:
a targeted cancer drug [that] boosts the immune system to kill cancer cells. It makes the immune system produce certain types of white blood cells called monocytes and macrophages.
Mifamurtide is administered intravenously. In the United States, the FDA also granted the treatment Orphan Drug designation, which means it is designed to treat a rare condition.
The authors explain that mifamurtide mimics an infection. As a result, the innate immune system activates. As monocytes and macrophages grow in number, pro-inflammatory cytokines begin staging an immune response. Although smaller cancerous metastases are not always recognized by chemotherapy, mifamurtide prompts the immune system to recognize – and get rid of – these areas. Thus, mifamurtide has anti-tumor properties.
In the study, 23 patients received both mifamurtide and chemotherapy, while an additional 26 patients with localized osteosarcoma acted as controls. Altogether, the trial spanned a 5.5 year period. Researchers determined that:
- 87.4% of patients who received mifamurtide and therapy experienced event-free survival within 3 years. In relation to PFS, 92.9% of patients achieved this. This means that, for at least three years, patients’ conditions did not progress or worsen.
- Within 5 years, 92.9% of patients achieved PFS. While overall survival dropped from 94.1% after 3 years to 80.7% after 5 years, mifamurtide was still associated with better outcomes. In fact, patients with mifamurtide were 5x less likely to experience cancer progression than the controls.
- Although two patients died, neither death was directly related to mifamurtide treatment.
Altogether, researchers believe that using mifamurtide in conjunction with chemotherapy or surgery could greatly improve patient outcomes. However, the researchers also call for further research to replicate these findings.
Sometimes known as osteogenic sarcoma, osteosarcoma is a rare bone cancer which occurs in the bones. Typically, the cancer forms in fast-growing areas, such as the shinbone, femur near the knee, or similar areas. Additionally, osteosarcoma often occurs during growth spurts, so it is more commonly found in teens and young adults. However, the cancer can also affect both younger children and adults. Despite its rare status, osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in children. Males are often impacted more than females. While the exact cause of osteosarcoma is unclear, a family history and a specific gene are associated with increased risk. Symptoms vary depending on where the tumor is located. However, some symptoms include:
- Bone or joint pain
- Limited joint mobility
- Swelling or a lump near a bone
- Fractures with no clear cause
- Pain that worsens at night or after exercising
Learn more about osteosarcoma.