UCLA researchers helped test the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat liver cancer in 10 years.
They found through clinical trials that the drug, regorafenib, increased overall liver cancer patient survival period from a median of 7.8 months to 10.6 months. Currently, advanced liver cancer has no cure. The FDA approved regorafenib’s use to treat liver cancer April 27.
According to the National Cancer Institute, regorafenib can also treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and the recent clinical trials has expanded its use to treat hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. HCC develops from tumor cells in the liver and is caused by hepatitis. It is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, often in areas with high rates of hepatitis.
Regorafenib works by inhibiting certain proteins that promote cancer growth. It also prevents tumor cells from growing blood vessels, effectively causing tumors to shrink or stop growing.
Richard Finn, an assistant professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA who led the clinical trials, said the only drug available to treat HCC in the past decade was sorafenib. He said the drug was able to shrink and control the tumor, but eventually the tumor could still grow.
Finn said patients can take sorafenib and transition to using regorafenib, which can increase their length of survival.