ORLANDO (Reuters) -- Interleukin-2, a substance produced by human immune cells, may prolong survival of women who do not respond to traditional chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, reports Dr. Robert P. Edwards of University of Pittsburgh/Magee Women's Hospital.
In a study of 20 patients presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology meeting here, four women had an evaluable response to treatment with an infusion of intraperitoneal interleukin-2, while another seven had stable disease while undergoing treatment.
Interleukin-2 is already approved for treatment of melanoma and renal carcinomas. "We are seeing the same type of response reported with melanoma and renal cancers, i.e. longer survival," Edwards said in an interview.
The women represent "very difficult, tough cases. These women have already failed at least three prior courses of taxol/platinum therapy and still disease persists," he said. Survival time for such patients is usually 12-18 months. A positive finding for this interleukin-2 trial would be "a six-month increase in survival or a response rate of more than 20%."
Of the four women who had a response, three had epithelial ovarian cancer and one had germ cell ovarian cancer. Three of the 20 women had toxic responses and died subsequent to withdrawal of treatment.
Another five patients who had no response died and one non-responder is alive with progressive disease.
The trial is on-going, with 24 patients currently enrolled and 38 patients as the target enrollment.