Practice-Changing Developments in Treatment of Metastatic NSCLC


Immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs that target the proteins PD-1 and PD-L1 are by now well established in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nivolumab (Opdivo), an anti-PD-1 drug, for treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC who progressed or relapsed after platinum-based chemotherapy. Atezolizumab (Tecentriq), an anti-PD-L1 drug, was approved in 2016 for treatment of NSCLC patients in the same situation. In October 2016, the FDA approved Pembrolizumab (Keytruda), a competing anti-PD-1 antibody, as first-line treatment in metastatic NSCLC patients whose tumors have high expression levels of the PD-L1 protein.

With these approvals, the stage was set to move these drugs into combination treatments that may increase their efficacy. Not surprisingly, combinations with chemotherapy have now been explored, among other possibilities. Continue reading…


Adjuvant Dabrafenib/Trametinib Granted FDA Approval for BRAF+ Melanoma

Excerpt:

“Based on data from the phase III COMBI-AD study, the combination of dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist) has been granted FDA approval for the adjuvant treatment of patients with BRAF V600E– or V600K–positive stage III melanoma following complete resection.

“In results from the trial, adjuvant treatment with dabrafenib and trametinib reduced the risk of relapse or death by 53% compared with placebo for patients with BRAF-mutant stage III melanoma.1,2 After a median follow-up of 2.8 years, the 3-year relapse-free survival (RFS) rate with dabrafenib and trametinib was 58% compared with 39% for placebo (HR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.39-0.58; P <.001).”

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Strosberg Discusses Lutathera Approval, Remaining Challenges in NETs

Excerpt:

“Findings from the phase III NETTER-1 trial led to the January 2018 FDA approval of Lutathera (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate) for the treatment of patients with somatostatin receptor–positive gastroenteropancreatic tumors (GEP-NETs). The trial compared Lutathera with high-dose octreotide LAR for patients with 1 or 2 metastatic midgut NETs.

“In NETTER-1, patients with midgut NETs who progressed on 30 mg of octreotide were randomized to Lutathera (n = 116) or high-dose octreotide (n = 113). Patients received 4 doses of Lutathera at 7.4 GBq every 8 weeks in combination with 30 mg of octreotide. The control arm received 60 mg of octreotide LAR every 4 weeks.”

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Lilly Breast Cancer Treatment Lands Another Approval

Excerpt:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given another approval for a breast cancer treatment developed by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY). The announcement marks the third FDA approval for Verzenio in five months.

“The most recent ruling approves Verzenio, also known as abemaciclib, for use in combination with an aromatase inhibitor as an initial endocrine-based therapy for the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Lilly says the approval follows the results of a successful Phase 3 clinical trial.”

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FDA Expands Approval of Imfinzi to Reduce the Risk of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Progressing

Excerpt:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Imfinzi (durvalumab) for the treatment of patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors are not able to be surgically removed (unresectable) and whose cancer has not progressed after treatment with chemotherapy and radiation (chemoradiation).”

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FDA Approves New Treatment for a Certain Type of Prostate Cancer Using Novel Clinical Trial Endpoint

Excerpt:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Erleada (apalutamide) for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer that has not spread (non-metastatic), but that continues to grow despite treatment with hormone therapy (castration-resistant). This is the first FDA-approved treatment for non-metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.”

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ZYTIGA® (abiraterone acetate) Plus Prednisone Approved for Treatment of Earlier Form of Metastatic Prostate Cancer

Excerpt:

“The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new indication for ZYTIGA® (abiraterone acetate) in combination with prednisone for the treatment of patients with metastatic high-risk castration-sensitive prostate cancer (CSPC). The approval is based on Phase 3 data from the pivotal LATITUDE clinical trial, which found that in patients with metastatic high-risk CSPC, ZYTIGA® in combination with prednisone reduced the risk of death by 38 percent compared to placebos.”

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FDA Approves First Treatment for Breast Cancer with a Certain Inherited Genetic Mutation

Excerpt:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today expanded the approved use of Lynparza (olaparib tablets) to include the treatment of patients with certain types of breast cancer that have spread (metastasized) and whose tumors have a specific inherited (germline) genetic mutation, making it the first drug in its class (PARP inhibitor) approved to treat breast cancer, and it is the first time any drug has been approved to treat certain patients with metastatic breast cancer who have a “BRCA” gene mutation. Patients are selected for treatment with Lynparza based on an FDA-approved genetic test, called the BRACAnalysis CDx.”

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Targetable Mutations in NSCLC: More Testing Needed!


Diagnosis of adenocarcinoma of the lung, a major subtype of non-small lung cancer (NSCLC), nowadays triggers mandatory testing of tumor tissue for alterations in four genes: EGFR, ALK, ROS1, and more recently, BRAF. If present, these alterations predict sensitivity to specific targeted drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that work better and often longer than standard chemotherapy, and are better tolerated.

However, there are many more targetable/actionable genomic alterations (also known as “drivers”) in NSCLC. This blog post will briefly discuss most of them, with the goal of promoting molecular testing for more than the four “usual suspects” mentioned above. Some patients with these alterations may benefit from FDA-approved drugs or from enrollment in clinical trials that are testing additional drugs and drug combinations. Continue reading…