Cancer: Novel drug stops tumor growth

Cancer: Novel drug stops tumor growth

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Berzosertib deprives cancer cells of their defenses

Surprisingly positive results in the treatment of advanced tumors could be achieved in a current study with a drug from a new class of agents. The substance called "berzosertib" deliberately hinders the repair of DNA damage in cancer cells, whereupon they die. Cancer growth was completely stopped in every second participant in the study.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London are presenting the new cancer drug berzosertib. In initial clinical trials on humans, the drug has already shown astonishing results. For example, berzosertib worked for cancer sufferers who had multiple chemotherapy failures. The active ingredient takes a completely new approach to killing cancer cells. The study results were recently presented in the "Journal of Clinical Oncology".

Active ingredient converts starch into weakness

DNA damage in the cells is the main cause of cancer. As a result, the cells multiply uncontrollably and grow into healthy tissue. Cancer cells, however, rely more than healthy cells on the ability to repair other DNA damage that occurs. Without this ability, they die quickly. This is exactly where the new active substance comes in and robs cancer cells of their vital survival ability.

The growth stopped for every second participant

Berzosertib has now been tested on humans for the first time and delivers amazingly good results. Among 40 participants with advanced cancer, half of those affected were able to stop cancer growth with the new active ingredient. Two people responded exceptionally well to the treatment.

Cancer disappeared from some participants

A patient with advanced colorectal cancer, whose tumor contained defects in key DNA repair genes, responded remarkably well to berzosertib alone. His tumors regressed in the course of treatment and eventually disappeared entirely. The man has been living cancer-free for two years now.

Another patient with advanced ovarian cancer had already failed seven different chemotherapies. She received treatment with berzosertib, which was supplemented by carboplatin treatment. Carboplatin inhibits cell growth and appears to support the effects of berzosertib. As a result of the treatment, the tumor started to shrink.

New family of targeted cancer drugs

"Our new clinical trial is the first to test the safety of a brand new family of targeted cancer drugs in humans, and it is encouraging to see some clinical reactions at this early stage," said Professor Johann de Bono from the study team.

"In the future, this new class of ATR-inhibiting drugs could enhance the effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, expand our range of treatment options, and overcome resistance to other targeted treatments," summarizes the professor. The effects of berzosertib in combination with other drugs that block ATR proteins are to be tested in further clinical studies. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Institute of Cancer Research: New class of precision medicine strips cancer of its DNA defenses (published: 22.06.2020),
  • Timothy A. Yap, Brent O’Carrigan, Marina S. Penney, et al .: Phase I Trial of First-in-Class ATR Inhibitor M6620 (VX-970) as Monotherapy or in Combination With Carboplatin in Patients With Advanced Solid Tumors; in: Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2020,

Video: My survival story -- what I learned from having cancer. Martin Inderbitzin. TEDxZurich (October 2022).