A completely novel type of oncology drug that acts in the same fashion as a ‘Trojan horse’ to get inside tumour cells has shown significant promise in patients with six different cancer types.

The drug, named tisotumab vedotin (TV) is being co-developed by Genmab and Seattle Genetics and is made up of a toxic drug attached to the tail end of antibody. The antibody itself is designed to seek out a receptor called ’tissue factor’ – present on the surface of many cancer cells. Binding to this tissue factor draws the drug inside cancer cells, where it is able to destroy them from within.

The results itself are from a phase I/II global clinical trial involving 150 patients with a variety of different cancers. The researchers found that a significant minority of cancer patients responded to the drug with tumour growth being suppressed or halted.

Looking in greater detail researchers saw good responses in 27% of patients with bladder cancer, 26.5% with cervical cancer, 14% with ovarian cancer, 13% oesophageal cancer as well as 13% with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The results themselves are put into context when we understand that the majority of patients in the trial had advanced stage cancer that was not responding to, or was resistant to, an average of three different prior treatment types.

Professor Johann de Bono, Regius Professor of Cancer Research at The Institute of Cancer Research and consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our early study shows that it has the potential to treat a large number of different types of cancer, and particularly some of those with very poor survival rates.”

TV is now going to be trialed in numerous other cancer types including pancreatic, bowel, squamous cell lung and head and neck cancer.

The results come at a positive time for Genmab which recently saw good phase III results with Darzalex (daratumaumab) which it co-developed with Sanofi for the lucrative market of multiple myeloma.