Similarly, the new drug known as checkpoint inhibitors allows the immune system of the patient in order to destroy the deadly cancerous cells. But when the drugs work, responses can be long-lasting, and researchers are rushing to find ways to combine treatments to improve their effects and to determine which formulation is best for each patient.
Some new hope for many patients with Lung cancer.
"The data show that treatment with pembrolizumab and chemotherapy together is more effective than chemotherapy alone", said lead investigator Leena Gandhi, director of the thoracic medical oncology program at Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health. One study, conducted by scientists at New York University, involved more than 600 patients with advanced lung cancer. The immune-activating drug was a checkpoint inhibitor called pembrolizumab, or Keytruda, made by Merck, which paid for the study. They were picked at random to receive either chemotherapy plus immunotherapy, or chemotherapy plus a placebo, with two-thirds receiving the combination that included immunotherapy.
The series of studies was yesterday presented at the American Association of Cancer Research in Chicago. I lead the Yale lung team. The result is yet another notch in the belt of immunotherapies that are quickly moving from research labs into clinics, with exciting results for many cancers.More news: USA and UK Blame Russia for Hacking Internet Routers Globally
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But the benefits for Opdivo and Yervoy lasted less than two months on average. Median survival is met when 50% of the patients die.
The other, vehicle T therapy, genetically reprograms a patient's immune T-cells to find and destroy cancer.
For non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer patients, median survival with chemotherapy alone is somewhere around 11 or 12 months, he said.
The estimated survival after a year was 69 per cent in those taking the immunotherapy drugs compared to 49 per cent who only had chemotherapy.