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Improving the success of cancer clinical trials

  • Researcher: Professor Robert Kerbel
  • Institution: Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Award Amount: £121,594 for 2 years from June 2014
  • Cancer Type: General Cancer Research
Improving the success of cancer clinical trials

Professor Robert Kerbel in Toronto, Canada is developing a strategy to increase the success rate of bringing new and effective anti-cancer drug treatments to patients.

Unfortunately even if a new drug has had very positive results in preclinical studies before reaching humans, it can still (and often does) fail in subsequent patient clinical trials. Antiangiogenic drugs represent a recent example. These drugs target the blood vessels that feed tumours and have often shown enormous promise in the lab, but generally have had less successful results in human clinical trials.

Professor Kerbel thinks the problem may be because of the type of mouse model these drugs were tested in before they reached humans. He wants to see if by treating mice with more advanced metastatic (progressing) disease the results will be closer to what happens in subsequent human trials. This could help scientists better predict which drugs could bring the greatest benefit to patients.

It is the law that all new drugs are first tested in animals before they are used to treat humans. But scientists are always trying to find ways to refine and reduce the number of animals used. If Professor Kerbel can develop better mouse models of the disease, it could ultimately mean not only more trials having a greater chance of success, thus reducing the costs associated with developing new drugs, but also fewer animals being used in unnecessary studies.


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