Experimental Drug Shrinks Many Tumor Types and Decreases Need for Narcotics

A new immunotherapy drug may shrink many different kinds of cancer tumors, including melanoma, lung, kidney, colorectal, and gastric. Called MPDL3280 and developed by pharmaceutical company Genentech, the drug targets a protein that lets cancer cells evade the immune system. In a phase I study, the new drug shrank tumors in 21% of 140 cancer patients and was most effective on melanoma and lung cancer. The drug also alleviated cancer-related symptoms, decreasing the need for oxygen supplementation and for narcotics to control pain. These results will be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The study has been expanded to include more kinds of tumors, as well as blood cancers.