Patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of primary brain cancer, who were treated with enzastaurin – an oral, targeted agent under development at Eli Lilly – experienced a significant tumor response rate with minimal side effects, according to preliminary Phase II trial results from the company.

The Phase II study, which was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, included 92 patients with recurrent glioblastoma who had failed more than one prior regimen of chemotherapy. Results show that between 20% and 25% of patients responded to the drug, with the most common side effect being thrombocytopaenia, which is a low platelet count.

Lilly said that the compound is the first targeted agent to enter late stage clinical development and it is designed to stop the flow of blood to tumours, disrupts tumour growth, as well as inhibiting two of the cell pathways that are vital to the survival of tumour cells. Final results from this study are expected by 2006 and Lilly is currently designing the protocol for a Phase III study, which aims to assess the drug’s efficacy and safety in a larger patient population.