An experimental cancer drug seems to be doing well in treatment trials against lung cancer in smokers and it may be just what those patients that are so hard-to-treat need, examiners said on Sunday.
Giving comprehensive information from an early-stage test of the drug, called MPDL3280A, in patients with a form of cancer called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), researchers explained that what they had discovered was great news for sufferers of lung cancer.
Out of over 50 patients with lung cancer tumors treated with the experimental drug, over 20 percent saw their tumors get smaller, stated results presented at the European Cancer Congress which was held in Amsterdam.
Yet most hopeful were the numbers among smokers, where the reaction rate was 26 percent compared with just 10 percent of people who had never picked up a cigarette. This is truly amazing because lung cancer, which is most often caused by a person smoking, is very hard to treat and once it moves to other parts of the body, it becomes incurable.
The drug, made by a company called Roche, is a planned antibody that aims for a protein in tumors which they use as defense mechanisms. They try to trick the body’s immune system’s own T-cells into being inactive and not fighting them back.
By blocking PD-L1, this drug lets the T-cells recognize the cancer, and then grow and multiply to fight against the disease more powerfully. Already rival makers of cancer fighting drugs are creating their own types of immunotherapy drugs in a similar class of drugs. They will also be designed to help the body’s own immune system get itself set up to battle cancer.
It was thought because lung tumors in smokers have a higher rate of changes inside their genetics than the tumors of lung cancer patients who have never tried tobacco; their immune systems would possibly be more able to respond stronger when PD-L1 is blocked. This is exactly what happened and the lung cancer drug is doing very well in treatment of patients. This is the very first drug ever that is seeming to work better in smokers than in non-smokers.
Numerous oncologists who are hearing about these very early results are saying this could be a real change in the fight against lung cancer. The drug company that created this has also started looking into the drug’s potential for treating a host of various other cancers as well, such as kidney cancer and also melanoma. It has been showing promise in early stages with the kidney cancer trials.
With early findings such as these, this drug may have the potential for all sorts of different therapeutic approaches. It is unknown at this time what all cancers it may end up being able to treat but it is sure a good response so far. The lung cancer drug is sure doing well so far with the treatment it is giving in the trials it is being used in. This is a wonderful beginning.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble