This is the result of a preclinical study performed by PD Dr. Dr. Peter E. Huber, head of the clinical cooperation unit ”Radiation Oncology” at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ), jointly with investigators at Heidelberg University Hospitals. The study is the first to investigate trimodal cancer therapy.

Today, a dual therapy combining simultaneous or sequential chemotherapy and radiation is the standard treatment for many tumours. Heidelberg researchers have now added an inhibitor studied only in preclinical trials so far. The inhibitor targets a number of protein kinases in blood-vessel-lining cells. Protein kinases are enzymes that participate in signal transduction processes and, thus, in the control of cell growth.

Envisioning the future, Huber said: "From a clinical perspective, protein kinase inhibitors may be used as broad-spectrum medications for many types of cancer in therapy combinations.”

The novel triple approach has proven clearly superior to dual strategies in tests both in human skin cancer cells and in mice injected with the same skin cancer cells. Thus, the trimodal combined therapy was more effective in inhibiting the multiplication of cancer cells in vitro and triggered the suicide program in more vessel lining cells than any combination of two treatments. In addition, the treatment significantly slowed down tumour growth in mice and also led to less invasion of tumour cells into neighbouring muscle tissue.

The investigations also revealed that radiotherapy is more effective against a tumour following prior antiangiogenic therapy, because this prevents a growth-promoting effect of radiation therapy on blood vessels.

"It is very well possible that the trimodal therapy will take the place of the traditional dual treatment strategy for many types of cancer such as lung cancer or malignant brain tumors,” said Huber.; Source: German Cancer Research Center