Results from an early-stage clinical trial found a new combination of target drugs could provide a new treatment option for treatment-resistant advanced ovarian cancer.

The Phase I FRAME trial – led by researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – evaluated VS-6766 and defactinib in 25 patients with low-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Overall, 46% of patients experienced their tumours shrinking ‘significantly’ in response to treatment, with responses in patients with a KRAS mutation ‘even more promising’.

Close to two-thirds of patients with a KRAS mutation (64%) saw their tumour shrink following treatment, suggesting that tumour profiling could be used to identify which patients are more likely to benefit from the drug combination.

In addition, participants in the FRAME trial lived an average of 23 months before their cancer progressed.

“Overcoming cancer’s ability to evolve resistance to treatment is a huge challenge for cancer research. This study has turned a deep understanding of how cancer fuels its growth and develops resistance into a highly targeted treatment for patients who currently have few treatment options,” said professor Kristian Helin, chief executive of ICR.

“Scientists have been working to develop treatments that can effectively target KRAS-driven cancers for decades. It’s fantastic that early trials indicate this treatment is highly effective for this patient group, and that a phase II trial has already begun,” he added.

Low-grade serous ovarian cancer is a rare form of cancer that typically develops at an earlier age than other types of ovarian cancer.

This uncommon type of cancer rarely responds to chemotherapy or hormone therapy, with less than 13% of patients responding to chemotherapy and less than 14% responding to hormone therapy.