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Drug Shows Promise in Clear Cell, Papillary Renal Cell Cancer

Last Updated: November 30, 2016.

The experimental drug CB-839 shows promise in treating kidney cancer, according to research presented at an international oncology conference in Munich on Wednesday. The conference is sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, and the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The experimental drug CB-839 shows promise in treating kidney cancer, according to research presented at an international oncology conference in Munich on Wednesday. The conference is sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research, the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), and the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

CB-839 targets glutaminase, an enzyme involved in the conversion of glutamine to glutamate, a nutrient that cancer cells need to survive, the researchers explained. This stage 1 clinical trial found that the drug was effective in most patients with advanced kidney cancer when used in combination with everolimus (Afinitor, Zortress).

In the 15 patients in the study, the dual treatment controlled tumors in 93 percent of the patients, who had either clear cell or papillary renal cell cancer. Tumors shrank by more than 30 percent in one patient, were stable in 13 patients, and grew by more than 20 percent in one patient. All 12 patients with clear cell kidney cancer had their disease controlled. The researchers found the drug to be well tolerated.

"Glutaminase is a very interesting target and previous work in the lab has shown that CB-839 is effective at inhibiting it in renal cell cancers and that it enhances the anti-tumor efficacy of everolimus," study author Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., chair of the department of investigational cancer therapeutics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said in an EORTC news release. "To date, tumors in 93 percent of patients with clear cell and papillary renal cell cancers have had tumor control from the regimen, with a median time without their cancer growing of 8.5 months."

The study was funded by Calithera Biosciences, the manufacturer of CB-839.

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