Tecentriq and Lung Cancer


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, accounting for about 25 percent of all cancer deaths. Now, a newly FDA approved drug for patients with non-small cell lung cancer is proven to greatly improve survival, Tecentriq.

More than 200,000 people a year in the United States are diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancers, which make up about 80 percent of all lung cancers. Now, the results of a phase three clinical trial show the immunotherapy drug atezolizumab, also known as Tecentriq, improves survival.

Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center explained, “There was 40 plus percent improvement in survival in those patients who got the immunotherapy, the atezolizumab, versus the chemotherapy.”

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The trial enrolled 554 patients with stage four metastatic tumors. The patients on atezolizumab survived an average of 20 months, as compared with 13 months for those on chemotherapy. Doctor Herbst, who authored the study, says the drug was well-tolerated by patients and could signal a change in treatment options for non-small cell lung cancer patients.

“Now in those patients, they don’t have to get chemotherapy with all the side effects of chemotherapy,” expressed Dr. Herbst.

Atezolizumab is a checkpoint inhibitor; it targets a protein known as PDL1 on the surface of tumor cells and helps the immune system attack the cancer. Patients receive it every three weeks as an IV infusion. In May, the FDA approved it for the treatment of non-small cell lung carcinoma.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer & Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:     MB #4821

BACKGROUND: Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates about 228,500 new cases of lung cancer (116,000 in men and 112,500 in women) in the U.S. in 2020. Lung cancer mainly occurs in older people who are typically diagnosed around age 65 or older. It starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control and embed in the cells lining the bronchi and parts of the lung such as the bronchioles or alveoli. Lung cancer may spread from the lungs to lymph nodes or other organs in the body, such as the brain. Cancer from other organs also may spread to the lungs.

(Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html and https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/what-is-lung-cancer.htm)

TWO MAIN TYPES OF LUNG CANCER: About 80 to 85 percent of lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The subtypes of NSCLC are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and large cell carcinoma. Adenocarcinomas start in the cells that would normally secrete substances such as mucus. This type of lung cancer occurs mainly in current or former smokers but is also the most common type of lung cancer seen in non-smokers. Squamous cell carcinomas start in squamous cells, which are flat cells that line the inside of the airways in the lungs and are often linked to a history of smoking. Large cell carcinoma can appear in any part of the lung and tends to grow and spread quickly, which can make it harder to treat. About 10 to 15 percent of lung cancers are small cell lung cancer (SCLC), and about 70 percent of people with SCLC will have cancer that has already spread at the time they are diagnosed. Since this cancer grows quickly, it tends to respond well to chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

(Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/lung-cancer/about/what-is.html)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Atezolizumab, also called MPDL-3280, is an inhibitor that targets PDL1 and reactivates the immune system. Drug trials showed that drug was active in a number of tumor types, including lung cancer. Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center says, “We also had biopsies and took tissue and samples from patients and understood a bit about the mechanism. So, we developed a biomarker and knew that patients with a high level of a certain protein called PDL1 happened to do better when treated with this drug. Fast forward 8 years, that drug was in early phase trials and then moved all the way to phase two and phase three, meaning to the forefront treatment of lung cancer. Who would imagine that you could treat someone with advanced lung cancer disease?” Researchers conducted a randomized trial comparing atezolizumab to chemotherapy in a group of patients that had high levels of the immune marker. The trial concluded that there was a 40 plus percent improvement in survival in those patients who got the Atezolizumab immunotherapy versus  chemotherapy.

(Source: Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, Chief of Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center)





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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Roy Herbst, MD, PhD, chief of medical oncology

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