First 'Targeted' Treatment for Small Cell Lung Cancer Shows Promise

“Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive disease that is difficult to treat and is frequently only diagnosed when it has spread to other parts of the body (metastasised). Five-year survival rates in SCLC, which accounts for about 14% of all lung cancers, are very low, at only six percent. But today US researchers will present two novel findings with important implications for treatment at the 2015 European Cancer Congress.

“Dr M. Catherine Pietanza, MD, an Assistant Attending Physician at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA, will report on results from a phase I trial of a novel agent, rovalpituzumab tesirine (Rova-T, or S16LD6.5), in 79 patients with SCLC who had progressed after first line (given when the disease is newly diagnosed) or second line therapy (given when the disease progresses or recurs).

” ‘While other cancers have multiple treatment options, there is only one agent approved in SCLC, and none available in the third line setting; the outlook for these patients is dismal,’ she will say. Third line therapy is given after first and second line treatments have failed to halt the progression of disease.”


OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Announces Presentation of Tarextumab Small Cell Lung Cancer Data at the 16th World Conference on Lung Cancer

“OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: OMED), a clinical-stage company developing novel anti-cancer stem cell and immuno-oncology therapeutics, reported new biomarker and updated clinical data for the company’s Phase 2 anti-Notch2/3 therapeutic candidate, tarextumab (OMP-59R5). These data show the potential of Notch3 overexpression as a prognostic factor in small cell lung cancer and update OncoMed’s Phase 1b results for tarextumab in combination with standard-of-care chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with extensive-stage disease. Anne Chiang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Yale School of Medicine, will present these data in a mini-oral presentation this afternoon at the 16th World Lung Conference on Lung Cancer.

” ‘Notch is known to be a fundamental cancer stem cell pathway driving the initiation and spread of tumors. Notch3 in particular has been associated with poor prognosis in a variety of solid tumor types, including pancreatic, breast and ovarian cancers,’ said Dr. Chiang. ‘Our analyses of small cell lung cancer patient tumors demonstrate that Notch3 overexpression in extensive-stage small cell lung cancer tumors is common and may be associated with poor survival. This is the first time that Notch3 tumor expression has been tested in small cell lung cancer and associated with poor patient outcomes.’ “


Super Advocate: Laura Gheorghiu Seeks Better Care for Her Mom—and for Cancer Patients Across Canada


Laura Gheorghiu’s mother didn’t usually go to the doctor for just a cold. After she moved to Québec four years ago, it took a long time to get a family doctor through the public healthcare system and, until then, seeing one meant sitting for hours in a walk-in clinic. But she did seek care for a cold late last fall. For one thing, she finally had a doctor. For another, she had a really bad cold. Continue reading…


Lung NETs and Their Treatment


Cancers that arise in the lung are mostly of the type known as NSCLC (non-small cell lung carcinoma). A much smaller proportion of lung tumors arise from neuroendocrine cells in the lungs. These cells (which are also found in most other organs) secrete a variety of hormones that are necessary for normal organ function, as well as for healing after injury or infection. Like other lung cells, neuroendocrine cells may transform to become cancers. Lung cancers that arise from neuroendocrine cells are called pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), or lung NETs. Continue reading…


Small Cell Lung Cancer at ASCO: Some Welcome News


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a fatal disease that has not seen new drug approvals for the last 17 years. Considering the relative success of ‘immune checkpoint inhibitors’ in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), it is not surprising that several abstracts recently presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting were devoted to clinical trials testing these trendy, immune system-boosting drugs in people with SCLC. Continue reading…


PharmaMar's Investigational Drug PM1183 plus Doxorubicin Shows Remarkable Activity in Small Cell Lung Cancer

“PharmaMar today announced data from a Phase 1b study of the transcriptional inhibitor PM1183 in combination with doxorubicin in second line therapy in patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) showing that the treatment induced objective responses in 67% of the patients, including 10% of them where all signs of cancer disappeared (complete responses). Every patient with SCLC denominated primary chemotherapy-sensitive (their chemotherapy-free interval (CTFI) is more than 90 days) responded to treatment, including 18% of complete responses. In primary chemotherapy-resistant patients, where cancer was progressing within 90 days or less of previous chemotherapy, a remarkable 30% achieved a response. Notably, the treatment resulted in durable responses, with an overall progression-free survival (PFS) of 4.6 months, which was 3.6 months in resistant patients. The most common adverse drug reaction was reversible myelosuppresion but no cardiotoxicity or drug-related deaths were observed.

“ ‘The rate, depth and length of responses that we have observed with this treatment in the second-line setting are remarkable, even in those patients that are usually considered harder to treat”, said Dr. Martin Forster, University College Hospital, London, UK.

“ ‘Small cell lung cancer is an unmet clinical need with very few recent advances and the scientific community is committed to help new develop effective therapies.’ ”


PharmaMar Announces New Advances in Oncology at ASCO 2015 for Its Compounds YONDELIS® and PM1183 in Small Cell Lung Cancer, Soft Tissue Sarcoma, and Mesothelioma

“PharmaMar announces that it will present several clinical studies to showcase the data obtained in various tumor types, including SCLC, soft tissue sarcoma and mesothelioma during the 51st American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago (ASCO; May 29-June 2). Abstracts have been selected for oral presentation, poster discussion session and general poster presentation. The studies presented by the Company will include the first-in-class drug YONDELIS® (trabectedin), and the second-generation of this class, PM1183 (lurbinectedin). PM1183 is an inhibitor of the transcriptional machinery and a DNA repair complex, which have proven to be crucial in different tumor types, including SCLC, soft tissue sarcoma and ovarian cancer. In addition, these drugs have been shown to have an effect on the tumor microenvironment by targeting tumor-associated macrophages, which is relevant for cancers such as mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, in which chronic inflammation seems to be a hallmark of the disease.”


Benefits of Surgical Resection for Small Cell Lung Cancer Remain Unclear

“Although surgical resection resulted in reasonable outcomes among well-chosen patients with early-stage small cell lung cancer, use of the treatment approach in this setting remains controversial, according to study results.

“Intrathoracic recurrence — the most common treatment failure in the study — occurred more frequently in patients who underwent limited resections. Thus, the researchers determined additional research is needed to assess the overall efficacy of combining surgery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

“ ‘Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for approximately 15% of the primary lung cancer diagnoses in the United States each year,’ Yolanda I. Garces, MD, of the department of radiation oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues wrote. ‘The current National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines recommend surgical resection as the preferred first-line treatment for patients with early-stage, node-negative disease. The purpose of this study was to evaluate clinical outcomes and patterns of recurrence in a single-institution series of patients undergoing curative resection of SCLC.’ ”


Maintenance Sunitinib Improved PFS in Extensive-Stage SCLC

“The use of maintenance sunitinib improved progression-free survival (PFS) over placebo among patients with untreated extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) in a new phase II study.

“ ‘Most of the 30,000 patients newly diagnosed each year with SCLC in the United States have extensive-stage disease,’ wrote study authors led by Neal E. Ready, MD, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. ‘Despite achieving good disease control initially, patients with SCLC usually experience relapse within 6 months of first-line chemotherapy and often do not respond to subsequent chemotherapy.’

“In previous studies, maintenance chemotherapy after standard platinum-based therapy did not show any overall survival benefit. The new study aimed to test whether sunitinib, a small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor that inhibits VEGF receptors and other targets. Results of the new study were published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“The study enrolled a total of 144 patients, 49 of whom progressed or did not complete induction chemotherapy; 95 patients were randomly assigned to a placebo maintenance therapy group (46 patients) or a sunitinib maintenance therapy group (49 patients), and five patients on each arm did not receive the maintenance therapy. Sunitinib patients received 37.5 mg per day until progression.”