SMHS research trial delivers promising results for bladder cancer patients

Health professionals review a medical image on a computer screen.
March 9, 2022

Fiona Stanley Hospital (FSH) bladder cancer patients have been the first in the world to see the results of a ground-breaking trial investigating the injection of a new type of cancer therapy.

The SUBDUE-1 research trial, which is being sponsored by the South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS), investigates the injection of an immune-stimulating cancer drug directly into the patient’s bladder.

FSH Head of Urology Professor Dickon Hayne said the drug, known as Durvalumab, is commonly used to treat several cancers that have spread including bladder cancer and has previously been injected into a vein.

“The innovative treatment follows the growing success of immuno-oncology agents, where the body’s own immune system was stimulated, as a novel approach to cancer treatment,” he said.

Working with nine patients recruited from FSH, all with aggressive bladder cancer, different doses of the drug were injected into the bladder at least two weeks before bladder surgery.

In one patient there was a ‘complete response’ with the cancer in the bladder no longer detectable after the injection.

All nine patients involved proceeded to their bladder surgery as scheduled and recovered well without any evidence of disease recurrence.

“These results are very exciting and such good news for patients requiring future treatment of the disease,” Dickon said.

“With more than 2,500 Australians diagnosed each year, bladder cancer remains one of the most under-researched cancers.

“Trials like SUBDUE-1 are an important part of establishing how we can improve these outcomes by determining the best possible treatment.”

Developed with the Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostrate Cancer Trials Group (ANZUP) and supported by an ANZUP ‘Below the Belt’ grant, the SUBDUE-1 findings were presented at a recent virtual cancer symposium held by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in San Francisco.