Cancer Research UK has launched a new clinical trial of a drug that researchers are hoping could prevent bladder cancers from becoming resistant to chemotherapy.

The new Phase I/II trial - called SPIRE and run by the charity's Centre for Drug Development and the Experimental Cancer Medicines Centre (ECMC) network - will test a drug called guadecitabine (SGI-110) in combination with chemotherapy to see if it can treat the disease and stop patients becoming resistant.

Astex Pharmaceuticals' guadecitabine is a type of DNA methyltransferase inhibitor that blocks molecules that can modify DNA. In cancer these molecules turn off genes that should be on, causing resistance to chemotherapy.

The first part of the study will give small doses of the drug to between three and 36 patients with advanced solid tumours, including bladder, lung, stomach and oesophageal cancers, to ensure it is safe and to find the most effective dose, after which it will be tested in 20 bladder cancer patients to gauge its effectiveness.

"Advanced bladder cancer can be a difficult disease to treat and we desperately need to improve our treatment options. Our trial offers a new approach to tackling resistant bladder cancers and there's promising lab research to suggest it might benefit patients," said Simon Crabb, trial lead from the Southampton ECMC.