“This could lead to a decrease in the effective dose of cisplatin and help offset toxicities related to this agent. More patients could potentially benefit from cisplatin therapy with the combination therapy,” study investigator Gopal Gupta, MD, told ChemotherapyAdvisor.com. “We want to do a phase 1 study in [patients with] metastatic bladder cancer. This drug has been on the market for 80 years.”  

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Dr. Gupta, an assistant professor in the Division of Genitourinary Oncology at Loyola University, said that there is an urgent need to develop new drug combinations for bladder cancer in an effort to improve morbidity and mortality. He noted that the 5-year survival rate for advanced stage 4 bladder cancer is approximately 20%. “There is now a new drug approved every year for different cancers, but for bladder cancer there [are few options]. Yet there is such a desperate need for it. So, it is a mystery why there are not better treatments,” said Dr. Gupta. 

A Better Diagnostic Test for Bladder Cancer

Part of the problem is the lack of progress in early detection and risk stratification of bladder cancer. Dr. Gupta said that approximately 30% of patients will present with advanced disease (stage 4) and more than 50% of patients diagnosed with confined bladder cancer eventually progress to advanced disease. He said that these numbers highlight why it is so vital that researchers identify biomarkers and mechanisms of bladder cancer progression for therapeutic targeting. 

Dr. Gupta and his colleagues have found that microscopic droplets called exosomes, which are shed by cancer cells, may act as biomarkers for bladder cancer aggressiveness. In a recent issue of BioMed Research International, the team reported that it was able to determine concentrations of exosomes isolated from bladder cancer cells and thus measure exosome uptake by recipient bladder cancer cells.5 The researchers used the ImageStreamX Mark II image cytometer (Amnis Corporation, Seattle, WA) to demonstrate that exosome uptake is dose- and time-dependent and can be partially blocked by heparin treatment.