A new study has found that a newly approved drug for leading form of cancer, lung cancer works to improve patient survival rate. The immunotherapy drug is called Tecentriq or atezolizumab. It was approved earlier by US Food and Drug Administration to treat newly diagnosed non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC comprises up to 85% of all lung cancers. Tecentriq works by targeting a protein called PD-L1 that lies on the surface of tumor cells.
As PD-L1 signals body’s immune system T cells not to attack and thus, by targeting it; Tecentriq unleashes body’s natural T cells to target and destroy the cancer cells. The researchers also explained that Tecentriq has already shown excellent progress in chemotherapy patients and this study confirmed that the drug is active in selected patients who have not received any lung cancer treatment.
In this study, 554 patients with stage 4 metastatic NSCLC tumors were included. They had tumors lacking mutations in EGFR or ALK genes. Among 205 patients who have tumors with high cellular expression of PD-L1, the median overall survival was 20 months for those who received Tecentriq as compared to 13 months for those who received standard platinum-based chemotherapy. Median progression-free survival was eight months for patients who received Tecentriq in comparison to five months for those on standard chemotherapy.
Study lead author Dr. Roy Herbst said, “These are exciting results that could be life-changing for many patients.” Dr. Herbst is the chief of medical oncology at the Yale Cancer Center and the Smilow Cancer Hospital. The results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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