Tarceva May Be More Effective in Advanced NSCLC When Combined with Other Targeted Therapies

An analysis of multiple clinical trials compared erlotinib (Tarceva) alone to combining Tarceva with other targeted therapies as second-line treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In the various trials, Tarceva was combined with bevacizumab (Avastin), bortezomib (Velcade), everolismus (Afinitor), sorafenib (Nexavar), sunitinib (Sutent), entinostat, tivantinib, and R1507. While combined therapy produced more side effects, it was more effective than Tarceva alone. Notably, the trials included many patients who had not been tested for mutations in the EGFR and KRAS genes. In patients who had EGFR mutations and/or lacked KRAS mutations, Tarceva alone tended to control cancer progression better than combined therapy, highlighting the importance of biomarker testing to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from different therapies.

Systemic Chemotherapy Is Effective in SCLC with Brain Metastases

Between one-tenth and one-fourth of patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) have brain metastases (cancer that has spread to the brain) when they are first diagnosed and up to half will develop them at some point during the course of their disease. There have not been many studies on the use of systemic chemotherapy (ie, chemotherapy in which drugs are allowed to circulate throughout the body) in these patients, but research suggests that it is an effective first- or second-line treatment. Systemic chemotherapy is especially recommended for SCLC patients with brain metastases who do not yet show symptoms.

FDA Approves Automated Scanning System for ALK Gene Mutations

Three percent to 5% of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients have a mutation in the ALK gene and may benefit from treatment with critozinib (Xalkori). In 2011, the FDA approved a test that samples NSCLC tissue and highlights ALK mutations with a glowing tag. Now, the FDA has approved an automated scanning system, GenASIs Scan & Analysis, for examining these tagged tissue samples. The automated system, produced by Applied Spectral Imaging, promises fast, reliable detection of ALK mutations in NSCLC.

Press release: http://www.spectral-imaging.com/news-and-events/news?elq=666b179d69bb426e96e2bb8761261d25

Taxotere-Afinitor Combination Only Modestly Effective in Advanced NSCLC

A phase II clinical trial examined the use of the chemotherapy drug docetaxel (Taxotere) combined with everolimus (Afinitor), a member of a family of drugs called mTOR inhibitors, as second- or third-line treatment in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The treatment was well tolerated, but only modestly effective compared to standard therapy in similar patients. The patients in the study had not been selected for any specific biomarkers; better effectiveness may be achieved in patients with relevant biomarkers.

Local Tumor Removal Followed by TKI Treatment May Be Effective in Lung Cancer Patients Resistant to TKIs

Many non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who receive EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) like erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa) develop drug resistance. Some of these patients may also have a small number of metastases (oligometastatic disease), which can be destroyed with local therapy. Local therapy methods include surgical removal, radiation, or electrical current produced by high-frequency radio waves (radiofrequency ablation). A recent study explored the use of local therapy, followed by renewed treatment with EGFR-TKIs, in patients with oligometastatic NSCLC who had become resistant to EGFR-TKIs. The treatment was well tolerated and effective, especially for patients in whom local therapy had removed all known tumors.

Research paper: http://journals.lww.com/jto/Abstract/2013/03000/Local_Therapy_with_Continued_EGFR_Tyrosine_Kinase.14.aspx

Bavituximab Looks Less Promising in Revised Clinical Trial Results

In revised results from a phase II clinical trial, Peregrine Pharmaceuticals’  experimental cancer drug bavituximab appeared less effective than in previous reports. While patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving a higher dose of bavituximab plus chemotherapy as a second-line treatment survived longer than patients receiving chemotherapy alone or with a lower bavituximab dose, the difference was not statistically significant. In September 2012, preliminary results from the same trial had reported that the higher bavituximab dose doubled patients’ survival time. Since then, an internal review revealed problems with drug vial labeling, which distorted initial results.

Virus shows promise as prostate cancer treatment

A recombinant Newcastle disease virus kills prostate cancer cells, including hormone resistant cells, but leaves normal cells unscathed, according to a paper published online ahead of print in the Journal of Virology.

Trial Finds That Finasteride Does Not Increase Risk of Death from Prostate Cancer

Data collected in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial indicates that the drug finasteride does not increase the risk of death from prostate cancer. Researchers say that the drug may improve biopsy accuracy and reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer in the long run.

Study Shows Blood Thinners May Enhance Chemotherapy Treatment of CRPC

Scientists reviewed the health records of 247 men with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) who were treated with the chemotherapeutic drug docetaxel. Some of the patients had received an added anticoagulant, or blood thinner. Men who took the anticoagulant had an increase in overall survival from 17.1 months to 20.9 months, indicating that anticoagulants may have antitumor activity.