Lung Cancer Dispatch
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Astrazeneca’s Medimmune Presents Encouraging Immunotherapy Data at ASCO 2014

"MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, presented results today from its novel investigational immunotherapy portfolio, focusing on MEDI4736, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2014 Annual Meeting.  Overall, studies demonstrated durable clinical activity and tolerability for MEDI4736 across a range of tumor types.


"This announcement follows the recent progression of the first Phase III study for MEDI4736, an investigational, engineered, human monoclonal antibody directed against programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1). Signals from PD-L1 help tumors avoid detection by the immune system. It is believed that by targeting PD-L1, MEDI4736 may block this ligand from sending out signals to T-cells to ‘ignore’ tumor cells, thereby countering cancer’s immune-evading tactics.


Editor's note: Immunotherapy treatments that boost a patient's own immune system to fight cancer are a promising area of cancer research. A new immunotherapy drug called MEDI4736 is being tested in volunteer patients with different cancer types, and has shown good results for some patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

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MedImmune  |  Jun 3, 2014

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AstraZeneca Launches Phase 3 Study of NSCLC Immunotherapy

AstraZeneca Launches Phase 3 Study of NSCLC Immunotherapy | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

"On the heels of rebuking merger offers from Pfizer, AstraZeneca announced in a press release it is moving forward with the phase 3 PACIFIC trial of a lung cancer immunotherapy drug.


"The drug, MEDI4736, is a human monoclonal antibody directed against programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1). The drug, still in development, targets the PD-L1/PD-1 pathway for the treatment of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) by blocking signals which allow PD-L1 to escape detection by the immune system."


Editor's note: MEDI4736 is an immunotherapy drug that is meant to boost a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. Learn more about immunotherapy and clinical trials here.

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Healio  |  May 9, 2014

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Combination Therapies for Lung Cancer

Combination Therapies for Lung Cancer | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

"CANCER NETWORK: Dr. Jänne, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors are a mainstay of therapy for those advanced-stage lung cancer patients with tumors that harbor specific EGFR mutations. What have we learned in the last few years about which patients respond to which oral agents and antibodies against EGFR? "


Editor's note: While not strictly "news," this interview provides a good overview of currently available treatments for lung cancer.

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Cancer Network  |  Apr 25, 2014

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Biomarker May Predict Best Response to Lung Cancer Drug MK-3475

Biomarker May Predict Best Response to Lung Cancer Drug MK-3475 | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

An early clinical trial of the drug MK-3475 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has yielded promising results. MK-3475 targets PD-1, a protein on the surface of immune cells. Another protein, PD-L1, is present on many tumor cells and can bind to PD-1, which deactivates immune cells. MK-3475 blocks PD-1, allowing the immune cells to keep attacking cancer cells. Patients with advanced NSCLC who had failed at least two other treatments were given MK-3475. Tumors shrank in 24% of the patients overall. However, tumor shrinkage occurred in 67% of patients with high levels of PD-L1 on their tumors, compared to only 9% of others. PD-L1 levels may therefore help predict which patients will likely respond to MK-3475.

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Medical Xpress  |  Jan 8, 2014

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Immune-Based Drug Shows Promise Against Lung Cancer, Especially in Smokers

Immune-Based Drug Shows Promise Against Lung Cancer, Especially in Smokers | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

Results from an early clinical trial suggest that the drug MPDL3280A is effective against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The phase I study found that tumors shrank in 23% of patients with advanced NSCLC treated with MPDL3280A. The effect was more pronounced in smokers (who had a 26% response rate) than in nonsmokers (a 10% rate), making it the first treatment with stronger activity in smokers. MPDL3280A inhibits PD-L1, a protein expressed on cancer cells that suppresses the immune response. Blocking PD-L1 allows the immune system to keep attacking the cancer. The tumor cells in smokers may carry more mutations, provoking a stronger attack from the unleashed immune system, which could explain the stronger effects in smokers.

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Reuters | Sep 29, 2013

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New Drug May Mobilize the Immune System to Attack Tumors

New Drug May Mobilize the Immune System to Attack Tumors | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new drug called MPDL3280A appears to shrink tumors in patients with a range of different cancers, including lung cancer and melanoma. In an ongoing clinical trial, MPDL3280A shrank tumors in 21% of patients with advanced cancer. Response rates were even higher in subsets of patients with lung cancer (22%) or melanoma (29%). Treatment benefits lasted from 3 to 15 months and counting; 26 of the 29 patients who benefited continue to respond to this day. There was wide variation in how quickly patients responded to treatment, with some experiencing significant improvement within days, and others after weeks of unresponsiveness. MPDL3280A was generally well tolerated, with few cases of severe side effects.

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ASCO Daily News | Jun 13, 2013

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ASCO Daily News | June 13, 2013

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New Immune-Based Drug Shows Signs of Effectiveness in Several Cancers

The new cancer drug MPDL3280A has produced promising results in an early clinical trial that investigated patients with various advanced cancers, including lung cancer; melanoma; and cancer of the kidney, intestines, or stomach. All participants had previously seen their cancer worsen despite treatment. Yet, during treatment with MPDL3280A, tumors shrank significantly in more than one-fifth of the patients. Response rates were especially high in lung cancer and melanoma patients. Of the patients who responded to MPDL3280A, almost all continue to see effects now, 3 to 15+ months into the study. MPDL3280A targets a protein, PD-L1, that is often expressed on cancer cells and "hides" the cells from the body’s immune response; by blocking PD-L1, MPDL3280A allows the immune system to attack the tumors. Further studies will be needed to confirm these findings.

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ASCO Post | May 17, 2013

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ASCO Post | May 17, 2013

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ASCO Post | May 17, 2013

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New System for Treating Cancer Seen as Hopeful

New System for Treating Cancer Seen as Hopeful | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Drugs that unleash the body’s immune system to combat tumors could allow patients with advanced melanoma to live far longer than ever before, researchers gathered at the nation’s largest cancer conference say.

“ 'It’s a completely different world for patients with metastatic melanoma, to talk about the majority of patients being alive for years rather than weeks or months,' said Dr. Jedd D. Wolchok, a melanoma specialist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, interviewed at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology here."

Editor's note: This is a good exploration of immunotherapy treatments for melanoma; immunotherapy for lung cancer is also discussed.

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The New York Times  |  Jun 2, 2014

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The New York Times  |  Jun 2, 2014

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Future of Cancer Treatments

Future of Cancer Treatments | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

"The news spurred hundreds of phone calls and emails to Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada from across the country: Two Stage 4 cancer patients at the Las Vegas center, after participating in the first human trial of an antibody drug with the unwieldy code name of MPDL 3280A, were now cancer-free.


"Rosemary Rathbun, 78, had been so far gone with throat cancer that doctors told her to enroll in hospice. Lorrine Rodgers, 56, had been told there were no other treatments for her spreading breast cancer.


"That their cancer disappeared, the women said in January, was a miracle."


Editor's note: This story is a great overview of an increasingly promising type of cancer treatment called immunotherapy. Immunotherapy treatments boost a patient's own immune system to fight cancer.

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Las Vegas Review-Journal  |  Apr 26, 2014

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Las Vegas Review-Journal  |  Apr 26, 2014

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Study Identifies Potential Predictor of Clinical Outcome in Patients With Lung Cancer Treated With the Investigational Immunotherapy MK-3475

Study Identifies Potential Predictor of Clinical Outcome in Patients With Lung Cancer Treated With the Investigational Immunotherapy MK-3475 | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Among patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with the investigational immune checkpoint inhibitor MK-3475, those whose tumors had high levels of the protein PD-L1 had significantly better outcomes, according to results of a phase I clinical trial presented here at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, April 5-9.

"Preliminary data from the trial, which were reported earlier this year, showed that MK-3475 treatment was well tolerated and led to durable, objective responses in previously treated patients with NSCLC, particularly those with tumors found to have high levels of PD-L1 prior to treatment. 

"The latest results extend these data, showing that at six months after starting treatment, 41 percent of patients whose tumors had high levels of PD-L1 had no disease progression, compared with 17 percent of those whose tumors had low levels of PD-L1. Similarly, 72 percent of patients whose tumors had high levels of PD-L1 were alive at this time, compared with 53 percent of those whose tumors had low levels of PD-L1."


Editor's note: MK-3475 is an immunotherapy drug, which means it boosts a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. This study found that it was more effective in patients whose tumors had high levels of the protein PD-L1, as detected by molecular testing. To learn more about immunotherapy treatments for lung cancer, visit this blog post.

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AACR  |  Apr 6, 2014

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Early Results For New Lung Cancer Immunotherapies Inspire Optimism

Three new immunotherapy drugs for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – nivolumab, lambrolizumab (MK-3475), and MPDL-3280A – have produced encouraging early results. All three interfere with PD-1 and PD-L1, molecules that interact to shield tumors from being attacked by the body's immune system. In phase I trials, more than 20% of participants experienced tumor shrinkage in response to each of the three drugs. For these patients, effects tended to be rapid and long-lasting. Most continue to respond favorably to treatment at this time, having been in the trials for up to 7 months (MPDL-3280A), an average of 9 months (lambrolizumab), or an average of 1.5 years and ranging up to 2.5 years (nivolumab). Overall toxicity was acceptable, though some cases of severe side effects were seen, including two deaths with nivolumab.

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Medscape | Oct 31, 2013

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Advances in Immunotherapy Brighten Prospects for People with Cancer

Advances in Immunotherapy Brighten Prospects for People with Cancer | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

The enthusiasm for anticancer immunotherapies continues to build, with two treatments already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and clinical trials underway for a variety of promising new candidates. The latest approaches include targeting a protein called PD-L1, which shields tumor cells from immune system attacks. In a phase I clinical trial of a PD-L1 blocker made by MedImmune, early results suggest that this treatment shrinks melanomas as well as kidney, lung, and colon tumors. Next, the researchers hope to open this trial to people with head and neck cancers as well. Another approach entails adding the gene for an immune system booster (interferon beta) to a therapeutic virus (vesicular stomatitis virus) that kills cancer cells, but not normal ones. This treatment is being tested on liver cancer in a phase I trial and early results are encouraging.

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The Miami Herald│Jul 26, 2013

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The Miami Herald│Jul 26, 2013

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The Miami Herald│Jul 26, 2013

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Side Effects of New Immune-Based Lung Cancer Drug Manageable

Side Effects of New Immune-Based Lung Cancer Drug Manageable | Lung Cancer Dispatch | Scoop.it

Preliminary results from an ongoing early clinical trial of the new lung cancer drug nivolumab show that the treatment is tolerable. Out of 43 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with nivolumab and chemotherapy, slightly less than half experienced serious side effects. In most cases, these side effects were manageable with medication and/or discontinuation of nivolumab. Nivolumab targets PD-1, a protein on the surface of immune cells that switches off the immune response when it binds to another protein, PD-L1, which is often expressed on tumors. By inhibiting PD-1, nivolumab enables the immune system to continue attacking cancer cells. Additional clinical trials focusing on patients with squamous or non-squamous NSCLC will investigate whether nivolumab is more effective than the chemotherapy drug docetaxel (Taxotere).

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Medical Xpress | May 31, 2013

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