Saturday, January 31, 2009

Brivanib optimism

Back again (as of 10:30 p.m. last night), and mostly happy to be here, although it's a little hard to leave the hotel we were staying in behind. It was really nice. 

My health remains in a pretty routine groove, so the interest in the visit was more in what we found out about the study. BT was on vacation so we met the main doctor behind the brivanib trial for the first time. We asked him how he was feeling about the early returns of the trial, and his answer was surprisingly definite. He's feeling really good about it. 

In about six months, they've enrolled about 60 Memorial patients into the trial, and something like 52 of them are still participating. They've seen responses, partial responses, stable disease. They've seen people with stable disease on drug get randomized into the placebo, progress, and get back on the drug and back to stable disease. He said that something like 80-90 percent of people so far were getting some kind of clinical benefit from the drug. "We don't have anything else like that," he said. 

Obviously, "clinical benefit" doesn't necessarily mean what we want it to, e.g. a meaningful increase in life expectancy or quality of life. And this report is anecdotal and premature. But whatever it does for me, it looks like brivanib may turn out to be a good drug, especially for people with liposarcoma.

In another note, we talked briefly about the study's unusual protocol, which sounds like it emerged from many discussions between this doctor and his colleagues and the folks at the drug company. The company needs a placebo group to have faster and more definite proof of the drug's effectiveness. But as an oncologist, the doctor I saw hates placebos. So the study design is an attempt to provide the data the company needs while minimizing (or eliminating) time spent on placebo. Take notes, Ariad.

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