A global trial led by St Bartholomew’s Hospital has seen the first new drug approved to treat people with bladder cancer for forty years.
Over 100 patients took part in a series of studies into the effectiveness of atezolizumab aimed at changing the practice of cancer treatment.
Results showed an increase in the proportion of patients who remained cancer-free with limited side effects when taking atezolizumab compared to chemotherapy, the standard form of treatment.
Chemotherapy alone is not associated with long-term remission. When combined with Atezolizumab, 25 per cent of patients achieved long term remission (over 12 months).
Atezolizumab, one of a new class of autoimmune therapies that boosts the body’s natural defence system to turn and fight cancer, has now been granted regulatory approval and is a new hope for those whom chemotherapy fails.
Professor Thomas Powles, consultant oncologist at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Our research is changing the way we target tumours and treat people with cancer. I am pleased that the new immune therapies, such as atezolizumab, are giving patients a chance of long term remission from bladder cancer.”
New trials will now be led by St Bartholomew's as medics attempt to improve outcomes and completely replace chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer.
St Bartholomew’s success in immune research was one of a range of ‘outstanding’ practices hailed by health regulator the Care Quality Commission following a recent inspection at Britain’s oldest hospital.
The report (published 20 September 2017) highlights that patients enrolled in cancer trials are among the first to benefit from innovative medicines under development.
Following their visit in May 2017, CQC inspectors rated St Bartholomew’s Hospital as good overall, saying patients are receiving safe, compassionate and innovative care. The hospital also achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating in the Well Led domain, with inspectors praising nursing and clinical leadership and reporting a positive and collaborative culture.
The successful rating comes only two years after a major transfer of staff and patients from The London Chest and The Heart hospitals to join cancer and cardiac services at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 2015.