New drug could be game changer in treating lung cancer

Research suggests that many more lung cancer patients may benefit from treatments that boost the immune system

A drug that acts on the immune system appears to help extend the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer when given alongside standard chemotherapy, a new study finds.

Note that the survival benefit was similar across the range of tumor PD-L1 expression.

Combining an immunotherapy drug with chemotherapy almost doubled the survival time of some lung cancer patients compared to patients treated with chemotherapy alone, new research published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine showed. However, the benefit only lasted for an average of less than two months, and it is too soon to say that the combination of immunotherapy drugs improves survival rates as well as Keytruda.

"The remarkable results of the team led by Drew Pardoll reflects both the power of collaboration between Stand Up To Cancer, the Cancer Research Institute, and the institutions and researchers participating in this Dream Team, as well as Stand Up's funding model which integrates semi-annual, rigorous, in-person reviews, enabling teams to pivot to where the science leads, and to allocate Team resources to trials which are most likely to benefit patients", said Nobel Laureate and Chairperson of the SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Institute professor at the MIT Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. The New England Journal of Medicine has recently published these impressive new results in a study.

The research could lead to new treatment regimens.

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For patients who received the combined therapy, the chance of death or progression of their cancer was reduced by 48 percent compared to the patients who only received chemotherapy.

"The improvement in overall survival with the addition of pembrolizumab to standard chemotherapy across all patients, regardless of PD-L1 status, is striking", said Shaw.




Traditionally, chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy has been given to lung cancer patients to shrink a large, non-metastasised tumour.

"I never would have thought that chemotherapy combinations would be where we are going with immunotherapy, and I resisted for a long time because my feeling was that immunotherapy could be used without chemotherapy", Herbst told MedPage Today.

Common treatments for lung cancer include chemotherapy and immunotherapy. "Whether that's pembrolizumab or nivolumab (Opdivo) or some combination, it will depend on the patient". With the success of this trial, several new, expanded studies are already underway. Patients whose tumors had sensitizing EGFR mutations or ALK alterations were excluded. Patients were randomized 2:1 in favor of the pembrolizumab arm. The trial had coprimary endpoints of overall survival (OS) and PFS, and the intention-to-treat analysis comprised 616 patients.

These categories included patients whose tumours had PD-L1 tumour proportion scores (TPS) of 1-49% - a patient group that does not often respond well to checkpoint inhibitor monotherapy. "That's tremendous progress for patients with lung cancer".

The ORR per blinded, independent central radiologic review in the pembrolizumab arm versus the chemotherapy alone arm was 47.6% (95% CI, 42.6-52.5) and 18.9% (95% CI, 13.8-25.0) (P .001), while there was a disease control rate of 84.6% versus 70.4%, and the median duration of response was 11.2 months versus 7.8 months in the pembrolizumab versus control arms, respectively.

Of 679 patients, 299 had a high number of gene flaws in their tumors.

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