Medical researchers in Melbourne, Australia, have carried out the first clinical trial of new anti-cancer tablet, venetoclax, in a major breakthrough in the fight against leukaemia, one of the most common blood cancers.
The trial showed that venetoclax effectively killed cancer cells in patients with advanced forms of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) when conventional treatment options had failed.
The data also showed that patients with an advanced form of leukaemia can achieve complete remission with a new tablet treatment.
The four-year trial involved a group of 116 patients with advanced stages of CLL, who administered the drug four times a day.
Around 80% of patients had promising responses to the drug, with 20% achieving complete remission.
Venetoclax targets a protein called BCL-2, which stops cancer growth by promoting cancer-cell survival, but preventing interaction between healthy and diseased cells.
The trial was conducted by Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) alliance partners, including the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
The VCCC is a purpose-built facility designed to accelerate advances in cancer research, treatment and education.
From mid-2016, the facility will be a brand new home for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, with 160 inpatient beds, 110 same-day beds, eight operating theatres, two procedure rooms, and eight radiation therapy bunkers.
The VCCC will also provide new cancer research and clinical facilities for Melbourne Health, and more than 25,000m² of dedicated space for more than 1,200 cancer researchers.
Victoria Health Minister Jill Hennessy said: "These ground-breaking results are exactly what the VCCC is all about: the world’s best clinicians, researchers and scientists working together to drive breakthroughs in cancer prevention, detection and treatment.
"Bringing our best and brightest together under one roof will mean more cutting edge clinical trials, more world-first discoveries and better support and treatment for Victorian cancer patients and their families.
"Whether it’s through the latest medical research, new and innovative technology to improve cancer treatment and care, or the development of clinical trials for patients who are running out of options, the VCCC is about bettering the lives of all Victorians touched by cancer."