New Lung Cancer Drug Boosts Overall Survival

Asbestos lung cancer lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight a recent clinical trial conducted on lung cancer patients using a new drug manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co. The company claims the experimental drug improved overall survival in late-stage trials of lung cancer patients.

The medication, necitumumab (IMC-11F8), will be submitted for marketing to the FDA before the end of 2014. The relatively vast timeline will give Lilly a chance to get regulatory clearance if any changes to the manufacturing process should occur.

The clinical trial compared necitumumab, combined with gemcitabine and cisplatin, with standard chemotherapy in lung cancer treatment. Necitumumab is a human monoclonal antibody which binds with certain cancer cells known as epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), and prevents their activation. Blocking EGFR essentially starves the cancer cells of oxygen and nutrients, enacting their destruction.

The clinical trial enrolled more than 1,000 adult patients who had not yet received any treatment for their metastatic (spread) non-small cell lung cancer. The participants received six cycles of treatment with necitumumab and the other two supplementary drugs, unless it had to be stopped for reasons such as excessive toxicity, consent withdrawal, or significant disease progression.

Eli Lilly decided to withhold the full results of the clinical trial until a scientific meeting in 2014. Analysts are cautioning those in the health care field, stating that the full, numeric data results are needed before any assessments can be made about necitumumab’s efficacy and safety. In early 2011, some necitumumab trials had to be stopped because some patients experienced blood clots known as thromboembolisms.

A similar drug to treat colorectal and other cancers, Erbitux, operates through a similar mechanism, and is co-marketed by Eli Lilly and Bristol-Meyers Squibb. The two companies also shared the rights to necitumumab, however, Bristol backed out of the joint venture earlier in 2013. Eli Lilly only acquired the experimental drug in 2008, when it bought ImClone Systems for $6.5 million.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the risk of blood clots remain, even in the most recent, seemingly successful trials. Though the company did not provide details, Lilly affirmed that thromboembolisms were among the more serious adverse events that occurred most often in necitumumab patients. Other adverse events included rashes and decreased magnesium blood levels.

In other asbestos lung cancer treatment developments, oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center recently identified a genetic marker that may help predict survival and treatment response in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Researchers have identified four genetic variants to help with this prediction.

All four genetic variants associated with survival prediction are located on a gene called TNFRSF10B, which is more commonly referred to as the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily. In laymen’s terms, the gene helps control cancer cell death. Researchers at Moffitt found that the four variants increased the risk of death in cancer patients by as much as 41%. Additionally, patients with the four gene variants were at much greater risk of mortality if they underwent surgery without follow-up chemotherapy treatments, compared to patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy post-op.

These findings may, among other things, allow oncologists to better tailor treatments for individual patients based on their unique genetic characteristics. More targeted therapies would also allow doctors to offer mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer patients more personalized treatment options, ideally leading to increased overall survival.

Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on any and all medical and scientific developments related to lung cancer, its causes and treatments. Lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma can be caused by even minuscule exposure to asbestos. If you or a loved one suffers from one of these disease, and was even briefly exposed to asbestos, contact a skilled mesothelioma lawyers as soon as possible, as these cases are extremely complex and time-sensitive.

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