MEK Inhibitor Disappoints in KRAS-Mutant NSCLC


“A targeted combination therapy for patients with KRAS-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) did not improve overall survival (OS) or progression-free survival (PFS), researchers reported.

“The phase III, randomized SELECT-1 trial compared the experimental MEK inhibitor selumetinib, in combination with docetaxel (Taxotere), with docetaxel and placebo as second-line therapy in patients who failed a previous line of therapy, explained Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD, of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues.

“After a follow-up of approximately 1 year, median OS in the selumetinib combination group was 8.7 months versus 7.9 months in the docetaxel plus placebo group (hazard ratio 1.05, 95% CI 0.85-1.30, P=0.64), they wrote in JAMA.

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Video: Dr. Kantoff on Docetaxel Plus Androgen Deprivation Therapy in Prostate Cancer


“Philip W. Kantoff, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a 2014 Giants of Cancer Care winner for Genitourinary Cancer, discusses the combination of docetaxel (Taxotere) chemotherapy and androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) in the setting of metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.

“Considering the positive results in overall survival from the CHAARTED and STAMPEDE trials, which combined ADT with docetaxel, the next step became determining which patients would benefit from this combination.”

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Cheap Drug Greatly Boosts Prostate Cancer Survival

“A cheap, decades-old chemotherapy drug extended life by more than a year when added to standard hormone therapy for men whose prostate cancer has widely spread, doctors reported Sunday.

“Men who received docetaxel, sold as Taxotere and in generic form, lived nearly 58 months versus 44 months for those not given the drug, a major study found.

” ‘This is one of the biggest improvements we’ve seen in survival in adults with any type of cancer that has widely spread from its original site,’ said Dr. Christopher Sweeney of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He led the study and shared the results Sunday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago.”

Editor’s note: This story describes the findings of a clinical trial, a study done with volunteer patients to test a new treatment. The clinical trial found that a chemotherapy drug called docetaxel (brand name Taxotere) extended survival by more than a year when taken in combination with standard hormone therapy for men with metastatic prostate cancer.

Nintedanib Combined With Docetaxel Is Effective Second-Line Option for Advanced NSCLC

“The combination of nintedanib and docetaxel ‘is an effective second-line option’ for patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have received previous treatment with one line of platinum-based therapy, according to results from the phase III LUME-Lung 1 study published in The Lancet Oncology. The combination improved progression-free survival for patients with refractory NSCLC irrespective of histology when compared to docetaxel (Taxotere) plus placebo, and ‘significantly prolonged overall survival of patients with adenocarcinoma, including patients with poor prognosis (ie, those who had progressed within 9 months of start of first-line therapy),’ Martin Reck, MD, Lung Clinic Grosshansdorf, Germany, and colleagues reported for the LUME-Lung 1 Study Group.”

Xalkori More Effective than Chemotherapy as Second-Line Treatment in ALK+ Lung Cancer

The ALK inhibitor crizotinib (Xalkori) has shown effectiveness in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have changes in the ALK gene that make the gene overactive (so-called ‘ALK-positive’ patients). A recent clinical trial compared Xalkori to chemotherapy as a second-line treatment in these patients. Over 300 patients with ALK-positive advanced NSCLC who had undergone one previous round of chemotherapy were treated either with Xalkori or one of the chemotherapy drugs pemetrexed (Alimta) or docetaxel (Taxotere). Tumors shrank in 65% of Xalkori-treated patients, compared to 20% of those receiving chemotherapy. The Xalkori-treated patients also went longer without their cancer worsening, experienced fewer symptoms, and reported higher quality of life.

Lung Cancer Drug BGB324 May Counteract Drug Resistance

The protein Axl has been associated with cell transformation processes that contribute to the spread of cancer through the body and to cancers becoming drug resistant. A recent study investigated the effect of the Axl inhibitor BGB324 on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells that had become resistant to EGFR inhibitors like erlotinib (Tarceva). BGB324 restored the effectiveness of EGFR inhibitors against these cancer cells, which had been grown either in a matrix or as tumors in mice. BGB324 also appeared to enhance the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug docetaxel (Taxotere) and of bevacizumab (Avastin). BGB324 may therefore be a promising new candidate for treating drug-resistant NSCLC. The drug will be tested in a phase Ib clinical trial for NSCLC in 2014.

New Clinical Trial Examines Lung Cancer Drug Bavituximab

The makers of the cancer drug bavituximab are initiating the SUNRISE trial, a phase III clinical trial investigating the efficacy of the drug against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with advanced non-squamous NSCLC whose cancer has progressed after first-line treatment will receive either bavituximab plus docetaxel (Taxotere) or Taxotere by itself. Bavituximab inhibits phosphatidylserine, a protein found on the surface of tumors and tumor-associated cells that acts to suppress the body’s immune reponse. By blocking phosphatidylserine’s action, bavituximab allows the immune system to continue attacking the cancer. To find out more, patients can go to

Clinical Trial Continues to Examine Lung Cancer Vaccine

A new phase II/III clinical trial will further investigate the effectiveness of the lung cancer vaccine tergenpumatucel-L (HyperAcute-Lung immunotherapy, or HAL) against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with advanced NSCLC that has resisted previous treatment will receive either HAL or the chemotherapy drug docetaxel (Taxotere). HAL consists of lung cancer cells that have been modified to prevent them from growing. A mouse gene has been inserted into these cells, causing them to express a molecule on their surface that human immune systems recognize as foreign. When the cells are injected into humans, they provoke a strong immune response, which stimulates the immune system to also attack the patient’s own lung cancer cells. A previous phase I/II trial of HAL had produced promising results.

Positive Results For Vargatef in Lung Cancer Study

New clinical trial results suggest that adding the drug nintedanib (Vargatef) to second-line chemotherapy can improve survival for some patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients with advanced NSCLC whose cancer had progressed after first-line chemotherapy received either Vargatef and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel (Taxotere) or Taxotere alone. On the whole, Vargatef was associated with slightly longer times without worsening of the cancer (3.4 months vs 2.7 in the Taxotere-only group), but no improvement in overall survival. However, in patients with lung adenocarcinoma, a subtype of NSCLC, the addition of Vargatef improved overall survival by over 2 months (12.6 months vs 10.3 with Taxotere alone). Vargatef disrupts the formation of new blood vessels that feed growing tumors.