A new immunotherapy drug, MABp1, is the first to target interleukin-1 alpha and may be effective in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. The study results were presented at the World Congress of Gastrointestinal Cancer in Barcelona, Spain.

By targeting interleukin-1 alpha, MABp1 may prevent angiogenesis associated with the mutated gene. Interleukin-1 alpha also causes the body to burn muscle, so turning it off would prevent cachexia and other associated side effects such as muscle loss, fatigue, appetite loss, and pain. 

Researchers in the current study enrolled 309 patients in a phase III, 2:1 randomized trial. Patients were assigned to receive either MABp1 or placebo. Patients receiving MABp1 had a 75% increased clinical response rate and an average overall survival of 7.3 months longer than those who received the placebo. They also saw improvements in the study’s other health-related measures, including reduced systemic inflammation, and were 25% less likely to experience adverse events.

The study authors called the drug promising, although additional trials are needed. The manufacturer is also planning to investigate MABp1 for use in combination therapy for non-small cell lung cancer.