Lung Cancer Immunotherapy Drugs in Development

The lung cancer lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm strive to keep our clients and blog up-to-date on the latest cancer research, treatments and development. We have written extensively on immunotherapy, the new and promising class of cancer treatments, and we are happy to report on several drugs being developed for lung cancer.

Big Pharma companies Pfizer and Merck KGaA recently started the second stage of a trial for the immunotherapy drug avelumab. This drug is now in its third and final phase of human testing, and will likely soon be submitted for FDA approval. Avelumab is being tested on newly-diagnosed lung cancer patients whose disease has worsened despite chemotherapy.

Keytruda and Opdivo Approved

The immunotherapy drug Keytruda was recently approved by the FDA for non-small cell lung cancer patients whose tumors contain a protein called PD-L1 and whose disease progressed after chemotherapy. Keytruda works best in patients whose PD-L1 levels are high, which is approximately a quarter of all non-small cell lung cancer patients.

There is another immunotherapy drug, Opdivo, which is available for all lung cancer patients regardless of protein levels. Both Opdivo and Keytruda work by blocking a certain substance on immune cells that interacts with PD-L1 in cancer cells. By blocking this substance, immune cells are then free to kill cancer cells. Clinical trials have shown these drugs may boost survival and tumor-shrinking rates better than more traditional treatments.

Immunotherapy vs. Traditional Treatments

Traditional cancer treatment centers on chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Medical experts acknowledge the need for treatments to be more specialized and tailored to each patients€™ unique disease, lifestyle, and the workings of their own unique immune system. Immunotherapy drugs aim to unleash the power of patients’ immune systems, enabling the body to fight cancer as best as it can.

Studies show that prognosis for any cancer, from lung cancer to melanoma, depends on the patients€™ ability to repair their damaged, cancerous DNA. Everyone has differing levels of certain cancer-fighting or cancer-progressing proteins, and treatments should be fit to match each patient's own body. It is becoming increasingly clear that the best, most comprehensive cancer treatments must focus on repairing our own DNA and harnessing our own immune systems.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 220,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. Some patients may benefit from participating in cancer treatment clinical trials, though only after discussion with your medical team. For most patients, the best time to have this conversation is before you have started any type of treatments.

Lung cancer is one of the main forms of cancer immunotherapy researchers are targeting, as it is one of the most common and deadly. Traditional treatments are unlikely to cure later-stage cancers; the hope of many researchers is that immunotherapy could be curative. Some patients with late-stage lung cancer have benefited from immunotherapies, even going into remissions and significantly prolonged survival.

For more information on participating in clinical trials, visit the National Cancer Institute’s page on this topic. The Institute offers a comprehensive guide for patients considering this option, as well as a list and description of clinical trials it supports.

Our team of lung cancer lawyers is currently accepting lung cancer claims nationwide. We have 30 years of experience advocating for lung cancer patients, winning millions for our clients. If you have any questions regarding lung cancer lawsuits or the process of filing a legal claim, contact our firm for a free legal consultation.

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