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Cancer drug shows promise

Rating

2 Star

Cancer drug shows promise

Our Review Summary

The story reports preliminary results of a clinical trial of a drug called AS1411 in advanced kidney and lung cancer patients. The results of this very small trial (12 patients) have yet to be presented at an upcoming oncology conference. The story does not mention that this data has also not yet been peer-reviewed in a medical journal. The story does note that “”the earliest that AS1411 could be approved for widespread use is in three or four years,” although it doesn’t give any justification even for that projection.

The story didn’t explain if overall survival was improved in patients whose tumors were reduced. The story provides some quantification of benefit, but we need further context. Also, the number of people in this study size is too small to draw any real conclusions about the benefit or the safety of this drug. The important point here is that this trial is designed to look at the primary outcome of safety. Results about tumor shrinkage are secondary outcomes. Thus, the only important benefits this trial could quantify would be the drug’s safety, which was not discussed in the story. For more background, see “Phases of drug trials” in the “Things You Should Know About Research Stories” section on the right side of the home page of this site.

This story seems to contain a great deal of information about Antisoma, the makers of AS1411 and funders of this study, and very little reporting on the safety of this new drug for advanced kidney cancer. The story does not provide outsider perspective to comment on this study in the context of existing kidney cancer treatment and research.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention the estimated cost of this drug and there are no cost comparisons with existing treatments.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story provides some quantification of evidence but it is poor and the sample size is very small to draw any real conclusions from this study of the safety of this drug. The important point here is that this trial is designed to look at the primary outcome of safety. Results about tumor shrinkage are secondary outcomes, Thus, the only important benefits this trial could quantify would be the drug’s safety, which is not discussed in the story. For more background, see “Phases of drug trials” in the “Things You Should Know About Research Stories” section on the right side of the home page.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No quantitative estimate of side effects. There is no comparison of side effects with those from existing drug treatments.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The study is described as a human clinical trial. The story does not mention randomization, but clinical trial implies a comparison with drug vs. placebo. The quantitative results are not given enough context, and the story does not touch on tumor reduction as it translates into overall survival or improved quality of life in advanced kidney cancer patients. There is also no comparison with existing treatments and no data on the side effects or safety of this drug compared to existing drug therapies.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not consult sources not affiliated with the study or its funders. Outside perspective is needed to put the results of this very small trial in context with existing treatment and research.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention other treatments for advanced kidney cancer. Nor does it mention the quality of life for patients when taking these experimental medications.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story mentions that “the earliest that AS1411 could be approved for widespread use is in three or four years.” The story reports very preliminary results of a clinical trial of a drug called AS1411 in patients with advanced kidney and lung cancer .

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story mentions that AS1411 is a new drug for kidney cancer currently in early clinical trials. The story mentions that this drug binds to the protein on the surface of cancer cells, stopping or slowing the growth of these cells.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

This story seems to contain a great deal of information about Antisoma, the makers of AS1411 and the funders of this study. However, there is not evidence that this information is, in fact, from a company or University of Louisville press release.

Total Score: 3 of 9 Satisfactory

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