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New drug could potentially treat lung cancer

MK-3475,an anti-PD-1 immunotherapy drug allows the immune system to properly detect cancer.

Written by PTI | Los Angeles |
November 4, 2013 3:14:07 pm

An new experimental drug that has shown promise in the treatment of melanoma may potentially treat patients with a most common form of lung cancer,scientists say.

The drug has shown early potential as an effective treatment for non-small cell lung cancer,the leading cause of cancer death among men and women worldwide.

Dr Edward Garon,director of thoracic oncology at University of California,Los Angeles (UCLA),presented the preliminary results of a Phase 1B study of the new drug,called MK-3475.

The detailed interim data on safety and activity came from a cohort of 38 patients with non-small cell lung cancer who were treated previously for the disease without positive results. For the study,the patients received MK-3475 every three weeks.

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Among the participants,24 per cent responded to the drug,with their tumours shrinking,and the median overall survival rate was 51 weeks.

For those who responded,the median response duration- the average amount of time their tumours remained shrunk-had not been reached at the time of this analysis,so it is at least 62 weeks.

Based on this data,a Phase 2/3 trial comparing two different doses of MK-3475 to standard chemotherapy for lung cancer has begun enrolling patients.


Some cancer cells can evade detection by the immune system by expressing a protein called PD-L1,which interacts with the protein PD-1 to prevent the immune system from seeing the cancer as an invader.

MK-3475,an anti-PD-1 immunotherapy drug made by Merck,allows the immune system to properly detect the cancer and to activate T cells-the so-called “foot soldiers” of the immune system-to attack and kill cancer cells.

The most commonly reported drug-related side effects in the study were of low grade.


“These are early results,but we are very encouraged by what we’ve seen so far with this drug,” Garon said.

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First published on: 04-11-2013 at 03:14:07 pm

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