Upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) is a rare malignancy. The standard treatment for localized high-risk disease is radical nephroureterectomy, which confers significant morbidity and is not appropriate for all patients. Patients harboring low-risk, non-invasive disease may be candidates for organ-sparing treatment, which includes endoscopic resection with or without intracavitary drug therapy. Successful administration of intracavitary chemotherapy to the upper tracts is impeded by rapid washout of the agent and short dwell times. This has limited the clinical utility of mitomycin C for treatment of upper tract tumors, despite the successful outcomes observed in low-grade urothelial carcinoma of the bladder. Currently, there is an unmet need for development of a technically feasible and oncologically sound intracavitary therapy for management of low-grade UTUC. UGN-101 (Jelmyto™) is a novel formulation of mitomycin C that uses a unique hydrogel designed to increase urinary dwell time, and thereby efficacy of treatment. Preclinical data demonstrated promising results regarding the safety and feasibility of this agent. Preliminary results of a phase III trial (OLYMPUS study) [ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02793128] demonstrated the efficacy of UGN-101 as a successful chemo-ablative agent for low-grade upper tract tumors. UGN-101 may represent a pivotal paradigm shift in the treatment of low-grade UTUC. Indeed, the drug has recently been granted approval by the US Food and Drug Administration as the first treatment for low-grade UTUC, which may lead to significant improvements in patient care and a long-awaited decrease in the burden of disease.
Keywords: drug development; kidney; upper tract urothelial carcinoma; ureter; urothelial cancer.
© The Author(s), 2020.