Novocure's noninvasive brain cancer therapy could succeed in ovarian cancer

The Optune device was initially approved for the treatment of glioblastoma, but Novocure is investigating its use in a number of other cancers. Image: Novocure

Phase 2 pilot data show that Novocure’s noninvasive cancer treatment, initially approved for glioblastoma, is safe and effective when delivered alongside paclitaxel to patients with recurrent ovarian cancer.

Novocure’s Optune device earned the FDA nod to treat patients with recurrent glioblastoma in 2011, and picked up an expanded indication last year as a first-line therapy for the brain cancer. The device uses Tumor Treating Fields technology, which the company says disrupts cell division.

Through four adhesive patches, the wearable device delivers noninvasive therapy to the region of the brain where the tumor is located. The Optune is used in combination with the chemo drug temozolomide in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma, while it is used alone in patients with recurrent disease. The company recommends patients wear Optune for at least 18 hours a day.

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The data showed that the treatment improved progression-free survival as well as overall survival in patients who received paclitaxel and Tumor Treating Fields therapy, compared with patients who received paclitaxel alone in a previous phase 3 trial, according to a statement.

“These results are promising,” said Dr. Eilon Kirson, Novocure’s chief science officer and R&D chief, in the statement. “Recurrent ovarian cancer is a very difficult to treat disease that quickly develops resistance to multiple types of chemotherapies. We are committed to researching TTFields as a potential treatment for ovarian cancer and look forward to beginning a phase 3 pivotal trial.”

In July, the FDA approved Novocure’s second-gen device, a smaller and lighter follow-up to its original Optune. But the company has targets beyond brain and ovarian cancer. In January, the company reported data from a 20-patient phase 2 study demonstrating that TTFields therapy in combination with chemotherapy was safe and tolerable in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. It is also investigating the Optune’s utility in non-small cell lung cancer and mesothelioma.

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