New Drug Combo Against Lung Cancer Improves Survival Rate by 31% Without Chemotherapy

Researchers investigated a new potential treatment that combines the medications ramucirumab and pembrolizumab for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. They found this combination increased survival rates by 31% compared to the current standard of care.
The scientists say that their results warrant further investigation of this possible new treatment. Advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 84% Trusted Source of all lung cancer cases. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2022, there will be around 236,740 new cases of lung cancer and around 130,180 deaths from the condition in the United States alone. The 5-year survival rate of NSCLC lies between 8 and 37% Trusted Source due to limited Trusted Source effective treatment options.

Research focusing on new treatment options for NSCLC could help improve survival rates and patient outcomes. Recently, researchers conducted a randomized phase II study for a combination of drugs: ramucirumab and pembrolizumab (RP). Ramucirumab is a vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2) inhibitor and works by blocking enzymes needed to form blood vessels. Pembrolizumab, on the other hand, is an immunotherapy drug known as an immune checkpoint inhibitor.

From the study, the team found that patients treated with RP experienced an increased survival rate of 31% compared to patients on current standard-of-care (SOC) treatments involving immune checkpoint inhibition (ICI) and platinum-based chemotherapy.

This is an interesting randomized phase II study on 136 patients who had failed prior immunotherapy and platinum-based chemotherapy, explained  Prof. Tony Mok, chairman of the Department of Clinical Oncology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.

The concept of anti-VEGF(R) in combination with immunotherapy is not novel. IMpower150 is the largest phase III study [on such treatments to date, and has] demonstrated efficacy of the taxol/carbo/atezo/bevacizumab being superior to taxol/carbo/bevacizumab as first-line therapy,” he added.

The current study provides the first hint of efficacy of such combination for [advanced non-small cell lung cancer] patients with prior exposure to immunotherapy.”
concluded  Prof. Tony Mok.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Revolutionary Cancer-Killing Virus Tested

Scientists have injected the first human patient with a new ‘cancer-killing virus‘ that has been shown to shrink solid tumours in animals. The virus, known as Vaxinia, has been genetically engineered to infect, replicate in and kill cancer cells, while sparing healthy cells. Tests on animals have shown it is able to reduce the size of colon, lung, breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer tumours.

While other immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have been effective in certain cancers, patients often relapse and eventually stop responding to or develop resistance to this type of treatment, according to the researchers. In contrast, Vaxinia can prime the patient’s immune system and increase the level of a protein called PD-L1 in tumours, making immunotherapy more effective against cancerVaxinia, (full name CF33-hNIS VAXINIA), is a type of ‘oncolytic virus‘ – a virus found in nature that has been genetically modified specifically to fight cancer. It is being developed by Imugene Limited, a company specialising in novel therapies that activate the immune system against cancer.

Our previous research demonstrated that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to respond to and kill cancer, as well as stimulate the immune system to be more responsive to other immunotherapies, including checkpoint inhibitors,‘ said Daneng Li MD, principal investigator and assistant professor of City of Hope‘s Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research. ‘Now is the time to further enhance the power of immunotherapy, and we believe CF33-hNIS has the potential to improve outcomes for our patients in their battle with cancer.’

The Phase 1 clinical trial aims to recruit 100 cancer patients with metastatic or advanced solid tumours across approximately 10 trial sites in the United States and Australia. It is anticipated to run for approximately 24 months. Patients will begin by receiving a low dose of Vaxinia, either as an injection directly into tumours or intravenously. Once the safety of Vaxina has been demonstrated, some participants will also receive an immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab, which improves the immune system’s ability to fight cancer-causing cells.

Interestingly, the same characteristics that eventually make cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy or radiation treatment actually enhance the success of oncolytic viruses, such as CF33-hNIS,’ said Yuman Fong MD, the Sangiacomo Family Chair in Surgical Oncology at City of Hope and the key developer of the genetically modified virus.

Source: https://www.cityofhope.org/
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Immunotherapy Drug for Advanced Lung Cancer

Lung cancer spreads to the brain in about one-quarter of patients with an advanced form of the disease. To date, radiation has been the only treatment option, but it comes with toxic side effects. Researchers at Yale Cancer Center (YCC) have found that use of the checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab in place of radiation can extend life with very few side effects in this patient population.

The findings, published in The Lancet Oncology, found that patient response depended on the level of the biomarker (PD-L1) expressed in their tumors. Of those that did respond, overall survival at one year was 40% and 34% at two years.

Pembrolizumab monoclonal antibody drug protein.

Survival in this cohort of patients exceeds the historically documented survival for patients with brain metastasis from non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC, which is a two-year survival of about 14%,” said the study’s lead investigator Sarah B. Goldberg, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine (medical oncology) at YCC.

This is the first study to specifically test the benefit of the treatment in a prospective clinical trial of lung cancer patients who had not yet been treated for brain metastasis or whose tumors recurred after radiation. Before this, most clinical trials of a checkpoint immunotherapy drug did not include patients with brain metastasis, but the few that did provided hints of benefit when retrospectively analyzed.

Source: https://news.yale.edu/