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…


Early Trial of Cabozantinib and Abiraterone Shows Promise in Prostate Cancer

“A phase I trial that combined the investigational therapy cabozantinib with the already approved abiraterone acetate in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) patients shows that the two agents are tolerable, with the potential for improved efficacy.

“Christopher Sweeney, MBBS, medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, presented the results (abstract #5027) at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, held May 30–June 3 in Chicago.”

Editor’s note: A clinical trial to test a new treatment on volunteer patients found that a combination of the drugs cabozantinib and abiraterone acetate may be beneficial for treating metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), but further testing is needed.


ASCO: Drug Combo Highly Active in Metastatic CRPC

“A small cohort of men with untreated metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) had a PSA response rate of 86% with the combination of docetaxel and abiraterone (Zytiga), investigators reported here.

“All but three of 21 evaluable patients had at least a 50% decrease in PSA levels with the combination, including 14 patients who had PSA responses ≥90%.

“Among 10 patients who could be assessed for response of measurable disease, six had partial responses, Scott Tagawa, MD, of Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues reported at a poster highlights session at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.”

Editor’s note: Prostate cancer patients who are treated with hormone therapy may become resistant to it and develop metastatic “castration-resistant prostate cancer” (CRPC). There is a lot of research being done to figure out good treatment strategies for these patients. The research described in this article shows promise for a treatment that combines the drugs docetaxel and abiraterone (brand name Zytiga). To learn more about new prospects for CRPC treatment, see our blog feature on the topic.


Astrazeneca’s Medimmune Presents Encouraging Immunotherapy Data at ASCO 2014

“MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, presented results today from its novel investigational immunotherapy portfolio, focusing on MEDI4736, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2014 Annual Meeting.  Overall, studies demonstrated durable clinical activity and tolerability for MEDI4736 across a range of tumor types.

“This announcement follows the recent progression of the first Phase III study for MEDI4736, an investigational, engineered, human monoclonal antibody directed against programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1). Signals from PD-L1 help tumors avoid detection by the immune system. It is believed that by targeting PD-L1, MEDI4736 may block this ligand from sending out signals to T-cells to ‘ignore’ tumor cells, thereby countering cancer’s immune-evading tactics.

Editor’s note: Immunotherapy treatments that boost a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer are a promising area of cancer research. A new immunotherapy drug called MEDI4736 is being tested in volunteer patients with different cancer types, and has shown good results for some patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).


ASCO: Targeted Tx Combo Stalls NSCLC

“Adding bevacizumab (Avastin) to first-line targeted therapy delayed progression in a subgroup of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), an open-label trial showed.

“Progression-free survival was 46% better with bevacizumab plus erlotinib (Tarceva), at 16.0 months compared with 9.7 on erlotinib alone in an EGFR mutation-positive population (P=0.0015), Terufumi Kato, MD, of Kanagawa Cardiovascular and Respiratory Center in Yokohama, Japan, and colleagues found.”

Editor’s note: A combination of two targeted therapy drugs has shown promise for treating some patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The two drugs are called bevacizumab (brand name Avastin) and erlotinib (brand name Tarceva). The research described in this story found that the combination works better for patients whose tumors have mutations in the EGFR gene (as detected by molecular testing) than erlotinib alone.


ASCO: Chemotherapy Key Part of Curative Lung Cancer Therapies

“Cancer Network: Thank you for speaking with us today, Dr. Kris. First, can you tell us why this is an important topic for an education session? Is there a debate of the use of chemotherapy in treating lung cancer?

“Dr. Kris: I wouldn’t quite say that there is a debate, but there is an impression that the therapy of lung cancers has switched to targeted therapies or immune therapies. Looking at the ASCO abstracts this year that would be an easy conclusion to draw. But there is an indisputable fact that no matter what target you can identify in a patient’s tumor, be it PD-L1 or a BRAF mutation, at some point in a patient’s illness they will be receiving chemotherapy. As we look at entire care of people with lung cancer it is very important to remember that virtually every single one will receive chemotherapy, and that we need to pay attention to choosing the best chemotherapy. We also need to think about doing research in chemotherapy. Clearly, we can do a better job, and we need more research to find the best drugs. Also, we need to find a way to use them with our targeted therapies.”

Editor’s note: Targeted therapies and immunotherapies are all the rage now in cancer treatment. But there are still important roles for chemotherapy. This article gives a great overview of recent advancements in the use of chemotherapy in lung cancer treatment, and why we need further research to refine and improve the benefits of chemotherapy.


Drug-Target Database Lets Researchers Match Old Drugs to New Uses

“There are thousands of drugs that silence many thousands of cancer-causing genetic abnormalities. Some of these drugs are in use now, but many of these drugs are sitting on shelves or could be used beyond the disease for which they were originally approved. Repurposing these drugs depends on matching drugs to targets. A study recently published describes a new database and pattern-matching algorithm that allows researchers to evaluate rational drugs and drug combinations, and also recommends a new drug combination to treat drug-resistant non-small cell lung cancer.”


Genprex Begins Phase II Clinical Trial for Lung Cancer

Genprex, Inc. announced today that it has enrolled the first patient in a clinical trial evaluating its lead product candidate Oncoprex® in combination with erlotinib (Tarceva®) for late-stage lung cancer patients. Oncoprex is a targeted biologic incorporating the pan-kinase inhibitor TUSC2, which inhibits oncogenic kinases via multiple pathways.

“The trial is significant in that it seeks to determine if patients without the EGFR activating mutation as well as patients with the EGFR activating mutation whose cancer has progressed after erlotinib treatment can benefit from the Oncoprex + erlotinib combination therapy. While erlotinib is a blockbuster drug helping many cancer patients worldwide, research shows that the vast majority of patients who have lung cancers without the activating EGFR mutation are unlikely to benefit from erlotinib. Additionally, many patients with the activating EGFR mutation who respond to erlotinib therapy eventually become resistant to the therapy.

Editor’s note: Clinical trials are studies done with volunteer patients to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new treatments (learn more in our lung cancer KnowledgeBase). This clinical trial is testing a new targeted therapy drug called Oncoprex. When combined with the drug erlotinib (Tarceva), Oncoprex may help treat patients who usually do not benefit from erlotinib or who have grown resistant to it.


Thwarting Drug Resistance in Lung Cancer


If you’ve read up on lung cancer research in the last few years, you probably know that large strides have been made in targeted therapies for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Targeted therapies are drugs that identify and attack specific mutated proteins that are detected in tumors. Because noncancerous cells do not have these specific mutations, targeted therapies can make a beeline for cancer, while leaving healthy tissue unharmed. Continue reading…