New trial combats the ‘toxicity’ of cancer treatment

A new GI Cancer Institute and AGITG clinical trial is open, aiming to improve quality of life and increase survival rates for people with colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in Australia and the second leading cause of cancer death. Approximately 15,494 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020.

The trial, called OXTOX, is open now in New South Wales, and 90 participants will join the study overall. It will help address the main reason why patients are unable to complete their desired chemotherapy treatments with oxaliplatin – due to a side effect called chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).

“It’s a major problem because we know that oxaliplatin (chemotherapy) improves survival for people with gastro-intestinal cancers but CIPN is the most common reason for having to stop it early or reducing the dose, so they may not be getting as effective a dose. That’s what the trial is about, to see whether this particular drug can reduce those problems,” Professor Vardy says.

Ibudilast, a drug currently available in Japan, could be the key to changing this. The OXTOX trial will investigate whether taking ibudilast during treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer can enable patients to have more chemotherapy before needing their doses to be lessened due to the impact of peripheral neuropathy.

“If the results of this trial are positive, it has the potential to improve patients’ quality of life and maybe even improve their survival if it means they’re able to get the desired dose of chemotherapy in. So we’re very grateful to the community for the opportunity to be able to do that,” Professor Vardy says.

The OXTOX trial was made possible by our dedicated community of fundraisers involved in the Gutsy Challenge. All donations raised by this community program go to the Innovation Fund, a unique grant opportunity enabling members to conduct vital high-quality exploratory studies to impact future clinical practice. Professor Vardy received the Innovation Fund grant to conduct OXTOX, and we cannot thank our community of dedicated fundraisers enough for their continued support to fund new research.

Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Chair of GI Cancer Institute and AGITG, says “The Innovation Fund Grant which is raised by our members and community provides AGITG members an opportunity to conduct small pilot studies which are critically important to generate data that can be used to attract much larger funds for a larger study. Without these initial small trials, we can’t advance our knowledge about the best way to treat patients with GI cancer.”

OXTOX aims to enrol 90 participants in the study from five sites in New South Wales.

Find out more about OXTOX