No Benefit to Afatinib in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer With Brain Metastases

“The use of afatinib or afatinib plus vinorelbine during or after treatment with trastuzumab, lapatinib, or both failed to show a patient benefit in women with HER2-positive breast cancer with progressive brain metastases compared with investigator’s choice of treatment, according to the results of a phase II study published in Lancet Oncology.

“Afatinib, an oral inhibitor of the ErbB family of proteins, did benefit about one-third of patients assigned to the treatment, but had no better activity than investigator’s choice of therapy, which consisted mostly of trastuzumab or lapatinib plus chemotherapy.

“ ‘No objective responses were achieved in patients treated with afatinib alone, but around one-third of patients, including those treated with afatinib alone, did not have disease progression during the first 12 weeks,’ wrote researcher Javier Cortés, MD, of Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, and colleagues. ‘No further development of afatinib for HER2-positive breast cancer is currently planned.’ “


Mutation Status Guides Advanced NSCLC Therapy

“The presence or absence of mutations in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) should guide selection of first-line systemic therapy, according to an updated clinical guideline from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

“Patients with squamous-cell tumors that have no gene alterations should begin treatment with combination platinum-based cytotoxic chemotherapy, so long as they have good performance status (0 or 1). Optionally, bevacizumab (Avastin) may be added when the platinum agent is carboplatin. For patients with performance status 2, either chemotherapy or palliative care alone is an acceptable option.

“In the presence of sensitizing EGFR mutations, appropriate first-line therapy is afatinib (Gilotrif), erlotinib (Tarceva), or gefitinib (Iressa). Treatment should begin with crizotinib (Xalkori) when patients have tumors with ALK or ROS1 rearrangements, as published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.”


Anti-HER2 Agents Show Potential in NSCLC

“While targeting HER2 mutations is mainly associated with breast cancer, there could be therapeutic potential with anti-HER2 agents in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). At this year’s International Lung Cancer Congress, Corey Langer, MD, discussed the potential for afatinib and neratinib—dual inhibitors of EGFR and HER2—in NSCLC, as well as the need for additional research, in order to truly comprehend HER2 targeted therapy in this particular setting.

“HER2 mutations occur in about 2% to 4% of patients with NSCLC, and for the most part, they are mutually exclusive with other molecular drivers (eg, EGFR, KRAS), according to Langer, director of Thoracic Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “Similar to EGFR and ALK, the HER2 mutations are more common in women, never-smokers, and adenocarcinoma histology,” Langer added.

“Regarding use of afatinib in these patients, Langer said, ‘There are limited but encouraging data in patients with HER2-mutant NSCLC treated with either afatinib or afatinib plus paclitaxel.’ “


Afatinib Improves Progression-Free Survival vs Erlotinib in Second-Line Treatment of Advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Lung

“In the phase III LUX-Lung 8 trial reported in The Lancet Oncology, Soria et al found that the irreversible ErbB-family inhibitor afatinib (Gilotrif) significantly improved progression-free and overall survival vs the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib as second-line treatment in patients with stage IIIB or IV squamous cell carcinoma of the lung who had disease progression after four or more cycles of platinum-based chemotherapy.

“In this open-label trial, 795 patients from 23 countries were randomly assigned between March 2012 and January 2014 to receive afatinib at 40 mg/d (n =398) or erlotinib at 150 mg/d (n = 397). The primary endpoint was progression-free survival on independent central review in the intent-to-treat population…

“The investigators concluded: ‘The significant improvements in progression-free survival and overall survival with afatinib compared with erlotinib, along with a manageable safety profile and the convenience of oral administration suggest that afatinib could be an additional option for the treatment of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.’ “


For Certain Asian NSCLC Patients, Afatinib Is Better than Chemotherapy

The gist: Certain Asian patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have better survival results when treated with the drug afatinib (Gilotrif) than with standard chemotherapy. In a clinical trial, these results were true for patients whose tumors had a particular mutation called del19 EGFR. But patients with the Leu858Arg EGFR mutation did just as well on Gilotrif as on standard chemotherapy.

“In an analysis of overall survival in the phase III LUX-Lung 3 and LUX-Lung 6 trials reported in The Lancet Oncology, Yang et al found no significant difference between afatinib (Gilotrif) vs pemetrexed (Alimta)-cisplatin (LUX-Lung 3) or vs gemcitabine-cisplatin (LUX-Lung 6) in previously untreated, predominantly Asian patients with EGFR mutation-positive stage IIIB or IV lung adenocarcinoma. A significant difference favoring afatinib was found among patients with exon 19 deletion (del19) in both trials, with no difference observed among patients with the Leu858Arg mutation…

“The investigators concluded: ‘Although afatinib did not improve overall survival in the whole population of either trial, overall survival was improved with the drug for patients with del19 EGFR mutations. The absence of an effect in patients with Leu858Arg EGFR mutations suggests that EGFR del19-positive disease might be distinct from Leu858Arg-positive disease and that these subgroups should be analysed separately in future trials.’ ”


Afatinib Works Best in Patients Whose Lung Cancer Has Specific Mutation in EGFR Gene

The gist: Afatinib (Gilotrif) works better than chemotherapy for people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have a specific mutation in the EGFR gene. This mutation is known as exon 19 deletion. In a recent clinical trial, some patients with exon 19 deletion were treated with Gilotrif and some with chemotherapy. The patients who received Gilotrif lived significantly longer than the patients who received chemotherapy. All patients had stage IIIB or IV lung adenocarcinoma.

“Patients with lung adenocarcinoma who harbored exon 19 deletion EGFR mutations experienced significantly longer OS when treated with first-line afatinib instead of chemotherapy, according to analyses of results from two phase 3 trials.

“However, researchers did not observe the survival benefit among patients with other types of EGFR mutations.

“ ‘These data provide important evidence about the use of afatinib in patients whose tumors have the del19 mutation and tell us that the standard treatments and approaches should no longer be assumed equivalent for every EGFR mutation,’ Lecia V. Sequist, MD, MPH, medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a press release.”


Results of New Drug, ASP8273, Show Response in Patients with Treatment-Resistant NSCLC

The gist: People with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has both the EGFR and T790M mutations might benefit from a new drug. The drug is called ASP8273. A clinical trial tested ASP8273 in volunteer patients in Japan. In the trial, it shrank people’s tumors. More research is needed, but it is hoped that the drug might be a good alternative for people whose tumors are resistant to drugs like erlotinib, gefitinib and afatinib.

“In a second presentation looking at new ways of treating non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has both the EGFR and T790M mutations, researchers will tell the 26th EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Barcelona, Spain, that an oral drug called ASP8273 has caused tumour shrinkage in patients in a phase I clinical trial in Japan.

“Mutations of the epidermal growth factor (EGFR) occur in about 30-35% of Asian patients with NSCLC (and in 10-15% of Caucasian patients). EGFR inhibitors called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), such as erlotinib, gefitinib and afatinib, can be used to treat EGFR-mutated NSCLC. However, these patients will eventually develop resistance to EGFR TKI therapy, rendering their disease resistant to current treatments. A further mutation called T790M accounts for 60% of this acquired resistance.

“ASP8273 is a new drug that inhibits the EGFR mutation and the T790M resistance mutation. Earlier research in mice had shown that it caused NSCLC to disappear completely, and so a I clinical trial was started in January 2014 to assess the drug’s safety and efficacy in humans.

“Twenty-four Japanese patients have enrolled so far to receive one of six levels of doses (25, 50, 100, 200, 400 and 600mg) once a day. A further seven patients have been enrolled into a second group to evaluate doses of 100mg, 200mg and 400mg a day (a dose escalation study), and the researchers are planning to enrol a total of 124 patients. Cancer had progressed in all the patients after prior treatment with EGFR TKI therapy, and most of them had the T790M mutation.”


Boehringer Reports Data from Afatinib Phase III LUX-Lung 3 Trial in Asian NSCLC Patients

The gist: Asian people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have a common mutation in the EGFR gene called del19 might have better survival when treated with the drug afatinib instead of chemotherapy. That was the conclusion of a recent clinical trial that tested afatinib in volunteer patients.

“Boehringer Ingelheim has reported positive data from a pre-specified subgroup-analysis of the pivotal Phase III LUX-Lung 3 trial of afatinib in Asian non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

“The trial showed that these patients with the most common type of EGFR mutation, (exon 19 deletion; del19), lived significantly longer after receiving first-line treatment with afatinib compared to chemotherapy.

“The company noted that overall survival results from this pre-specified Asian subgroup-analysis are consistent with the overall del19 population in LUX-Lung , and with the previously reported Asian Phase III LUX-Lung 6 trial, in which patients with the del19 mutation lived a median of more than one year longer if they started treatment with afatinib rather than standard chemotherapy…

“Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences and Guangdong General Hospital vice-president and principal investigator of the LUX-Lung 6 trial Yi-Long Wu said: ‘Afatinib is the first treatment to demonstrate a significant overall survival benefit for NSCLC patients with the del19 mutation, the most common EGFR mutation.

” ‘More than half of the world’s lung cancer cases occur in Asia. Therefore, EGFR testing for NSCLC patients is important in order to identify the patients eligible for targeted therapy.’ “


ASCO 2014 Lung Cancer Roundup


Every year, thousands of people gather in Chicago, Illinois, for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. The largest meeting of its kind, ASCO brings together doctors, researchers, nurses, patient advocates, pharmaceutical company representatives, and more to discuss the latest in cancer research. Here are some of the most exciting new developments in lung cancer research presented last week at ASCO 2014: Continue reading…