Comparison of Combination Chemotherapy Regimens Shows No Significant Differences

Both pemetrexed (Alimta) plus carboplatin (Paraplatin) and Paraplatin plus paclitaxel (Taxol/Abraxane) plus bevacizumab (Avastin) are effective chemotherapy regimens against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, until recently, the safety and efficacy of the two regimens had not been directly compared. To evaluate whether one regimen was superior, a phase III clinical trial determined how long patients with advanced non-squamous NSCLC remained free of either cancer progression or severe toxic side effects when treated with either of the two regimens. While patients receiving the Alimta plus Paraplatin regimen tended to have slightly longer relapse- and toxicity-free periods than those given Paraplatin plus Taxol/Abraxane plus Avastin, the difference was not very pronounced and could have happened by chance. The two regimens also did not differ regarding overall time until cancer progression, response rate and overall survival time.


New Clinical Trial of Drug OGX-427 Aims to Help Patients Ineligible for Targeted Therapies

OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals announced that it will begin the Spruce clinical trial, a phase II study investigating the use of their cancer drug OGX-427 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with advanced non-squamous NSCLC will receive first-line treatment with chemotherapy using carboplatin (Paraplatin) and pemetrexed (Alimta), either with or without the addition of OGX-427. OGX-427 inhibits a protein called Hsp27, which is elevated in many cancers. The study investigators suggest that OGX-427 may be especially helpful for patients whose cancers lack certain mutations that would make them eligible for currently available targeted therapies.


Alimta-Paraplatin Combination Appears to Be Effective Treatment for Elderly Lung Cancer Patients

Most elderly patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) do not receive chemotherapy and no age-specific guidelines for choosing chemotherapy agents exist. A phase II clinical trial investigated treatment with pemetrexed (Alimta) and carboplatin (Paraplatin) for elderly (age 70+ years) patients with advanced NSCLC and little functional impairment. The combination treatment was as effective in these patients as it had been in younger populations in previous studies and it was more effective than either pemetrexed or carboplatin alone. While some patients experienced serious side effects, especially blood-related complications, overall toxicity was acceptable, suggesting that combined Alimta and Paraplatin may be a viable treatment option for similar patients.


Avastin-Containing Chemotherapy May Be Safe in Lung Cancer Patients with Brain Metastases

Bevacizumab (Avastin), which is approved for treatment of a number of advanced-stage cancer types, is commonly avoided in patients with brain metastases (cancer that has spread to the brain) because of fear of brain hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain). A retrospective study of 52 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had received chemotherapy containing Avastin found no cases of serious bleeding events and no significant differences in survival or treatment side effects between patients with or without brain metastases. Avastin may therefore be a safe treatment option in NSCLC with brain metastases.

Research paper: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/acrt/20/2/20_47/_pdf


Overexpression of IGF1R and EGFR Genes May Worsen Lung Cancer Prognosis

The roles of the genes IGF1R and EGFR in lung cancer were examined in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had their primary tumor surgically removed. Patients whose tumors had increased expression of both IGFR1R and EGFR were more likely to experience recurrence of the cancer after a shorter amount of time and had shorter survival times after surgery. This finding suggests that concurrent overexpression of IGF1R and EGFR is a negative prognosis factor in NSCLC and may indicate patients who are more likely to benefit from novel treatments with IGF1R inhibitors.

Research paper: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00280-012-2056-y/fulltext.html


Study Suggests Iressa Effective for Elderly Patients with EGFR-Mutant Lung Cancer

A retrospective study in Japan examined 55 patients aged 75 years or over with inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who had a mutation in the EGFR gene and received gefitinib (Iressa) as first-line therapy. The treatment was generally well tolerated and patients experienced longer periods without cancer progression (median: 13.8 months) and longer overall survival (median: 29.1 months) than commonly reported for similar patients. While studies using control groups will need to confirm that Iressa is indeed more effective than standard chemotherapy or a placebo, these findings suggest that Iressa may be a preferable first-line treatment in elderly patients with advanced EGFR-mutant NSCLC.

Research paper: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12032-012-0450-2/fulltext.html


Genetic Variation in P53 May Contribute to Lung Cancer Risk

A study of individuals with and without lung cancer in North India found that those carrying a particular version (or “polymorphism”) of a gene for the protein p53 were more likely to have lung cancer, independent of their age or smoking rate. P53 belongs to a class of proteins called “tumor suppressor proteins,” and is involved in DNA repair, regulating cell growth, and inducing cell death in damaged or abnormal cells. The findings suggest that this version of the p53 gene, called Arg72Pro, may contribute to higher susceptibility for lung cancer, at least in the North Indian population.

Research paper: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/dna.2012.1792


Abraxane-Paraplatin Combination May Be Safe and Effective in Elderly Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer

A recent study examined first-line treatment with the chemotherapy agent carboplatin (Paraplatin), combined with either albumin-bound paclitaxel (Abraxane) or standard solvent-based paclitaxel (Taxol), in both elderly and younger patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients treated with Abraxane/Paraplatin exhibited higher treatment response rates and fewer toxic side effects in both age groups; elderly patients (age 70+ years) experienced longer periods without cancer progression and longer overall survival with Abraxane/Paraplatin compared to Taxol/Paraplatin treatment. Abraxane plus Paraplatin may constitute a safe, effective first-line treatment for elderly patients with advanced NSCLC, a group that has been traditionally undertreated.

Research paper: http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/2/314.long


Variations in MMP Genes Are Associated with Differences in Lung Cancer Risk

Variations in genes for a family of proteins called matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) have been suggested to play a role in lung cancer risk. A meta-analysis of several studies on MMP genes found that a particular version (or “polymorphism”) of the MMP1 gene, called MMP1-1607 1G/2G, is associated with higher susceptibility for lung cancer in Asian patients. In contrast, the MMP2-1306 C/T version of the MMP2 gene decreases lung cancer risk in Asian patients and the MMP9-1562 C/T version of the MMP9 gene decreases lung cancer risk in white patients.

Research paper: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378111912016447