We were delighted to hear that the team behind the FAKTION trial has been presented with a MediWales Award. The team were awarded the category Health and Social Care Research Partnership with Industry.
The awards were held on the 4th of December as a celebration of the achievements of the NHS, life science and health technology communities across Wales.
The results of the trial could benefit millions of patients with incurable breast cancer. The research shows that, by combining investigational therapy with a standard treatment, patients should see their cancer controlled for twice as long.
Involving 140 patients from 19 hospitals across the UK, the cancer trial called FAKTION is sponsored by Velindre University NHS Trust. It is jointly led by Dr Rob Jones, who co-leads our early phase trials research, and Dr Sacha Howell from the Christie NHS Foundation Trust and University of Manchester.
The 140 patients had all been diagnosed with incurable breast cancer amenable to hormone treatment, known as oestrogen receptor positive cancer.
Dr Rob Jones said, “The incremental benefit from Capivasertib is highly significant and the trial involves patients with a very common form of breast cancer. In the UK for example 55,000 new cases of breast cancer occur each year and about three quarters are oestrogen receptive positive breast cancers. That equates to millions of patients around the world that potentially are going to get benefits from this breakthrough.”
Oestrogen receptive positive breast cancer can be treated by drugs that interfere with the action of oestrogen or the oestrogen receptor. Although these drugs are often effective for a while, the cancer can frequently become resistant and the drugs stop working. In the trial, researchers investigated whether they could reverse or delay resistance to hormone therapy by adding a drug called Capivasertib to existing therapy.
Dr Rob Jones continued, “The trial was conceived in Wales and it has been wonderful to work with colleagues in the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University and to see so many patients treated on the trial here at Velindre Cancer Centre.
“The results are extremely encouraging. We measured success primarily by determining how long the treatment prevented cancer growth, but also whether it resulted in shrinkage of the cancer and how long patients lived for.”
Approximately 70 per cent of patients in the trial had cancer that could be accurately and reliably measured on scans. Careful examination of these scans demonstrated that 41 per cent of patients who received fulvestrant together with Capivasertib experienced a significant shrinkage in their cancer compared to 12 per cent of patients who were allocated to fulvestrant and a placebo.
In addition, patients receiving the Capivasertib had their cancer controlled for an average of 10.3 months whereas for those who got fulvestrant with the placebo it was 4.8 months. The current trial data also suggests that patients treated with the new combination live for an average of six months longer.
This research was conducted with support from the investigator-sponsored study collaboration between AstraZeneca and the National Cancer Research Network.
Additional support was provided by the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network.
Leaders of the study hope that the research will progress to a phase three trial, where the investigational combination will be tested in a larger number of patients, before any recommendations can be made to take it up as a new standard of treatment on the NHS.