The yearly meeting of the ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology), the main international oncological congress, was held in Chicago (US) from 2 to 6 June.
Also Doctor Lorenza Rimassa, Deputy Chief Representative of the Operative Unit of Medical Oncology at Humanitas, participated to the congress with an oral presentation about the study “Second-line tivantinib (ARQ 197) vs placebo, in patients with MET-high hepatocellular carcinoma: Results of the METIV-HCC phase III trial”.
This is a phase-III study involving 340 patients with MET-high hepatocellular carcinoma. MET is the growth factor of hepatocytes, that involves in the progression of this neoplasm.

The study and its results

The study involved a selected population of patients with MET-high hepatocellular carcinoma, a biomarker for this kind of tumor. We administered tivantinib (or a placebo in a 2:1 ratio) to these patients, after the failure of the standard treatment with sorafenib.
“Even though results were positive during phases I and II, the phase-III study did not confirm a real efficacy of the medication in the selected population. Nevertheless, we can infer some important indication inside the research”, Doctor Rimassa explains.

The role of markers

“First of all, we have to keep in mind that we treated only patients with MET-high hepatocellular carcinoma. It’s the first time in the case of hepatocellular carcinoma that a treatment is selected on based on a marker. This is an important step towards an increasingly personalized medicine.
The study also demonstrated that the expression of MET is more frequent after the standard treatment with sorafenim. Thus, we can infer that the tumor is somewhat plastic and that we have to evaluate the markers in different times. In fact, given that MET varies during time, it may also be true of other markers.
Finally, the patients to whom we administered a placebo, survived for much longer than we thought possible, and this is also a positive result”, Doctor Rimassa highlights.

The participation of Humanitas to other studies

Also, a multi-centric international study was presented as a poster to the Congress, with the participation of Humanitas (Doctor Lorenza Rimassa and Doctor Nicola Personeni, Medical Oncology specialist and university researcher).
“ARQ 087, an oral pan-fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitor, in patients with advanced intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma with FGFR2 genetic aberrations”. This is the name of the study that involved 35 patients with advanced intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma with FGFR2 (growth factor of fibroblasts) genetic aberrations.
Patients were administered with ARQ 087, the inhibitor of the growth factor of fibroblasts. Results showed that 6 patients responded well, with a reduction of the tumor, while in 17 patients the disease remained unchanged.
“These data are interesting. We are going to perform another study with more patients, and we will also work on it at Humanitas. If the results will be positive, the study should lead to the registration of the medication”, Doctor Rimassa explains.
Finally, the results of the study “FOLFOX4/XELOX in stage II–III colon cancer: Efficacy results of the Italian three or six colon adjuvant (TOSCA) trial” were presented too. This is a multi-centric Italian study performed within an important international collaboration about colorectal cancer, to which also Humanitas took part.