The SPAR trial, which opened to recruitment in May this year, has received a $1.2 million grant from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. As a result of this grant, the trial now has funding for full study recruitment.
SPAR aims to build on research that indicates that a statin drug, taken for cholesterol, can lead to better patient responses to chemotherapy and radiotherapy in rectal cancer. Laboratory tests have shown how statins sensitise cancer cells to radiation while protecting normal cells. It is a randomised study that aims to recruit 222 patients from Australia and New Zealand.
“A positive outcome in the SPAR trial, either through improved tumour response or reduced toxicity from chemoradiation, would lead to a phase III trial to confirm these findings and look at long-term outcomes,” says Principal Investigator Associate Professor Michael Jameson. “This could change the worldwide standard treatment for rectal cancer to giving a statin with chemoradiation.”
Researchers hope that statin drugs will improve the effect of chemoradiation as well as reducing radiation toxicity to the skin and gastrointestinal tract. The HRC NZ grant for SPAR will enable researchers in determining whether statins have the potential to improve survival outcomes and quality of life for patients.
To date, this trial has opened in two sites, and the first patient has been recruited and randomised for treatment.
More information on SPAR is available here.