Cutting Edge Lung Cancer Treatments

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Recent advances in diagnostics and therapy are raising survival rates of those diagnosed with lung cancer, with more exciting developments on the horizon.

One such recent advance involves giving Cancer Institute of Canada showed that, of those who received a two-drug chemo combination, 15% more lived five years or more after their surgery, while a U.S. study showed a 12% increase in survival rates.

The chemotherapy drugs used in these studies are not new, yet with these study results doctors now have better knowledge of how to work with what’s available, meaning many people may lung cancer,” Rigas says.

Another targeted treatment — approved for lung cancer in 2004 — is clinical trial — a study that tests a drug’s safety — people with advanced lung cancer or colon cancer were injected with the antibody. Then, using special dyes, researchers tracked where the antibody went.

What they found were “very high concentrations in the cancer but very low concentrations in any other normal tissue,” says Scott, meaning the antibody targets tumors specifically and that treatment will likely cause little damage to healthy cells.

Scott says he expects to begin a phase II study by late 2007, which will test how well the antibody treatment works. Besides prompting the immune system to attack, antibodies might also be used to deliver a “payload” drug directly to cancer cells, or to interfere with cellular communications, he says.

With many antigens unique to lung cancer cells, some researchers believe it’s vital to develop as many antibodies as possible. This way, says Sacha Gnjatic, PhD, a researcher at the Ludwig Institute’s New York City branch, “if one antigen somehow escapes immune system, you can target another one.”

Gradually, experts hope, lung cancer survival rates will rise.

Published March 13, 2006.