A 'sci-fi' cancer therapy fights brain tumors, study finds

  • A 'sci-fi' cancer therapy fights brain tumors, study finds

A 'sci-fi' cancer therapy fights brain tumors, study finds

A cap-like device that produces electric fields to fight cancer was found to improve the length of survival of brain tumor patients. Similarly, the five-year survival rate shot up from 5% to 13% for patients treated with the drug combo compared to those treated with temozolomide alone.

Novocure Ltd (NASDAQ:NVCR) has come forward to make the announcement regarding the Phase 3 study's positive results.According to the company's insiders, the study had been put in place to help evaluate the combination of its cancer drug Optune and its abilities to deal with the condition called glioblastoma. The trial involved 695 patients newly-diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme.

Optune's creator Novocure recommends the patches are used for at least 18 hours a day to see the desired effect - increased life expectancy. The device only gives a feel of mild heat and not that of electric current or radiation.

The cap, called the Optune, works by sending alternative, intermediate-frequency (200kHz) electrical fields into the brains of cancer patients.

Landmark analyses show a consistent and maintained improvement in overall survival at two, three, four and five years. In EF-14, adherence was more than 75 percent over the course of a median number of 8.2 TTFields/temozolomide one-month cycles of therapy.

"These data further support our belief that Optune plus temozolomide is an essential combination treatment for patients with newly diagnosed GBM", said Asaf Danziger, CEO of Novocure.

'You can not argue with them - they're great results, ' and unlikely to be due to a placebo effect, said one independent expert, Dr. Antonio Chiocca, neurosurgery chief at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Many doctors, however, are skeptical of this treatment. Some reported feeling weak and scalp irritation, but these side effects were relatively minor.

As promising as the device may be though, it has a downside - it costs roughly $700 per day, the Associated Press reports. It's also is being tested for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers; electrodes are worn on the belly or chest for those.

The price reflects 'an extremely sophisticated medical device, made in very low quantities, ' with disposable parts changed several times a week and a support person for each patient, he said.