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.