Researchers have discovered that many women with low-grade serous carcinoma of the ovary or peritoneum have seen their tumors stabilize or shrink after taking a regular dose of the compound selumetinib, according to a paper in The Lancet Oncology which show that selumetinib targets a mutation in the MAPK pathway for patients with low-grade serous carcinoma, allowing for treatment on previously chemoresistant tumors.

"This is a potentially important breakthrough for the Gynecologic Oncology Group," said first author John Farley, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at St. Joseph's Hospital.  

This study was initially developed in 2007, with 52 patients enrolled for the Phase II clinical trial between December 2007 and November 2009. Patients were given 50 milligrams of selumetinib orally twice daily. Of those participants, eight had a measurable decrease in tumor size, seven had partial responses and 34 patients saw their tumors stabilize. The findings suggest that inhibitors of the MAPK pathway warrant further investigation in patients with low-grade ovarian cancer.

"There just aren't very good treatments for low-grade ovarian cancer, so this discovery opens up a lot of new exciting possibilities for us," Farley said. He added that Phase III of this trial is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks, with that trial to be the "definitive test" before the treatment becomes available to the general population.

Citation: Prof John Farley MD,William E Brady PhD,Vinod Vathipadiekal PhD,Heather A Lankes PhD,Prof Robert Coleman MD,Prof Mark A Morgan MD,Prof Robert Mannel MD,Prof S Diane Yamada MD,Prof David Mutch MD,Prof William H Rodgers MD,Michael Birrer MD,David M Gershenson MD, 'Selumetinib in women with recurrent low-grade serous carcinoma of the ovary or peritoneum: an open-label, single-arm, phase 2 study', The Lancet Oncology - 1 February 2013 ( Vol. 14, Issue 2, Pages 134-140 )  DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70572-7