Data from phase 3 clinical trials on the use of Virulizin for treating pancreatic cancer revealed a significant survival benefit for a particular subgroup of patients. The randomized, double-blind, multicenter trial compared Virulizin plus gemcitabine with placebo plus gemcitabine in chemo-naive patients with locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer. As a first-line treatment, Virulizin did not show any statistical significance in overall survival, but it showed encouraging survival rates among patients with metastasis and patients with low Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status. A more recent data analysis showed increased survival benefit for patients taking Virulizin who received the optional second-line therapy after disease progression. At this stage, patients who remained on Virulizin had a median survival of 10.9 months, compared with 7.4 months for patients taking placebo.
The results were presented on February 1, 2006, at the 17th International Congress on Anti-Cancer Treatment in Paris, France. Jim Wright, PhD, chief executive officer of the drug's manufacturer, Lorus Therapeutics Inc, noted: "Virulizin significantly improved survival in pancreatic cancer patients who remained in the treatment arm even when treatment with the standard-of-care chemotherapy gemcitabine was no longer effective. Although this finding is from exploratory analysis, it provides important new information.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.
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