Апреля 24, 2018

Study sees immune therapy scoring big win against lung cancer

17 Апреля 2018, 11:35 | Winifred Adams

Treatment combo improves lung cancer survival times, study finds

Stefanie Joho 27 in Penn Valley Pa. last spring was treated with Merck’s Keytruda for advanced colon cancer. A new study shows that the immunotherapy drug when combined with chemotherapy also prolongs survival in patients with advanced lung cance

But trials over the last five years have repeatedly shown more uses for immune therapy in lung cancer, and the new research confirms that almost all lung cancer patients will now receive immune therapy, said Patrick Forde, the first author on one of the studies and a lung cancer specialist at Johns Hopkins Medical.

The new study, led by Dr. Leena Gandhi of NYU's Perlmutter Cancer Center, gives that proof. In one study, adding Keytruda to standard chemotherapy cut the risk of death in half for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

A Johns Hopkins University study also found patients treated with Opdivo were less likely to have their cancer progress after one year. He said that tumor cells were like bags of hidden proteins that, if exposed, the immune system could use as targets to find and attack cancer. Chemotherapy has limitations. Immunotherapy has the ability to cure.

In his own research, Hellmann said, his team finessed the dosing of the two drugs to minimize side effects, and found that the combination therapy was significantly better than chemotherapy alone against tumors with a lot of mutations. The studies were sponsored by the drugmakers, and many study leaders and Herbst consult for the companies.

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The median time until cancer worsened was about 7 months on the immunotherapy drugs versus 5.5 months for chemo.

"Ive been treating lung cancer for 25 years now, and Ive never seen such a big paradigm shift as were seeing with immunotherapy", said Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of Medical Oncology at the Yale Cancer Center. The findings could prompt doctors to use immunotherapy as a first line of treatment for lung cancer, despite a hefty price tag of $13,000 per month. The most common side effects were nausea, anemia and fatigue and in both groups about 65% of patients experienced severe side effects.

The study, a phase III clinical trial testing treatment effectiveness and side effects, included 616 patients at 118 medical facilities around the globe.

Most patients stay on the drugs for two years, he said. The immunotherapy drugs did not help people with fewer tumor gene flaws. It is also possible, he said, that chemotherapy may kill some immune cells that interfere with the cancer-killing action of other parts of the immune system. The median overall survival was 11.3 months in those who did not receive immunotherapy, whereas survival in the immunotherapy group was longer and the median has not yet been reached. The drugs are given through IVs and cost about $12,500 a month.

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