A recent clinical trial of lung cancer has shown promising results, which could be considered as groundbreaking developments. In this clinical trial, a novel immunotherapy combination was very effective in controlling the progression and development of lung cancer. The results of this innovative study were published in the journal The Lancet Oncology. The clinical trial focused on combating non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common form of lung cancer.
This clinical trial was conducted under the supervision of John Wrangle, M.D. He is a prominent immunologist at the Hollings Cancer Center, which is affiliated to the Medical University of South Carolina. According to Dr. John Wrangle, the clinical trial’s results are promising enough to confirm that the novel therapy can be delivered effectively in an outpatient setting.
In general, metastatic lung cancer is “incurable” in patients till date. But the results of immunotherapy have been promising enough to offer a ray of hope to these patients. . The disease-free survival rate of these patients was drastically improved when they treated with novel immunotherapy.
In the very least of terms, metastatic lung cancer patients cannot be “cured” presently but this novel immunotherapy has certainly increased their chances of survival. .Dr. John Wrangle designed this clinical trial with the help of his colleague Mark Rubinstein, Ph.D. John Wrangle and Mark Rubinstein work together at the Hollings Cancer Center. The clinical trial was started in the year 2016.
Despite receiving chemotherapy at regular intervals, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer always shows signs of progression in most patients. Therefore, these patients are also treated with immunotherapy to combat their deteriorating situation.
Immunotherapy is a recent development in cancer treatment. The principle of immunotherapy is as follows: the immune system of the human body is programmed to fight cancer cells. “Checkpoint inhibitor” is the most common class of immunotherapeutic drugs: white blood cells constitute the most important component of natural defenses in the human body.
White blood cells can effectively target cancer cells when “checkpoint inhibitor drugs” target the checkpoints associated with the regulation of immune system. According to Rubinsetin, the pathophysiology of checkpoint inhibitor drugs is as follows: the drugs cut off the brake cables of white blood cells, which are very effective in killing cancerous cells.
Tumor cells also have their own mechanism for proliferation and progression: Suppressive factors are produced by tumor cells, turning the brakes of white blood cells and preventing them from effecting the apoptosis of tumor cells.
Rubinstein further states the novel immunotherapy is more effective in killing lung cancer cells because it is based on the following principle: apart from cutting the brakes cables of white blood cells, the novel immunotherapy provides fuel so that cancer cells can be killed very effectively.
The novel immunotherapy developed by Wrangle and Rubinstein was based on the following principle: the checkpoint drug nivolumab was combined with ALT-803, which is a novel and powerful drug for stimulating the immune system.
The clinical trial was path-breaking because although the drugs were completely different from each other, they were effectively combined and administered to humans for the first time. Moreover, the results of the clinical trial indicate that these drugs can be administered safely. The evidence is compelling enough to prove that this immunotherapy can also be successful on patients who did not respond well to checkpoint therapy.
Rubinstein and Wrangle reiterate the significance of this novel immunotherapy: checkpoint therapy is not provided to lung cancer patients when they stop responding positively; however, the survival period of these patients can be improved significantly with the addition of ALT-803 drug.
This is because many studies have established that the immune system in the human body is activated by ALT-803 drug. Consequently, the lymphocytes of the immune system may be effectively coaxed to combat tumor cells. In such a scenario, combination treatments may be good enough provided they include the drug ALT-803.
In their clinical trial, they had carefully monitored the condition of 21 patients with metastatic lung cancer. Out of them, 9 patients had become resistant to single-agent immunotherapy after a certain period of time. All the nine patients either had stable disease or they responded partially to the single-agent immunotherapy. Therefore, novel combination therapy is the right step in combating cancer.
Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are the conventional modes of treating cancer since several decades. However, the last decade has shown prominent strides in cancer treatment, with promising results shown by targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The balance of power between cancer and human immune system has been tilted with these innovative approaches.