A New Drug Helps Increase Survival Rates of Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Patients



non small cell lung cancer


A recent study performed by AstraZeneca and MedImmue reveals, provisionally, that a Phase III trial with the drug Imfinzi, also known as durvalumab, gives longer life to patients with advanced, inoperable, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The trial, known as PACIFIC Phase 3, tests Imfinzi in comparison to placebo drugs in patients with inoperable, stage 3 NSCLC whose cancer did not advance after receiving standard chemotherapy treatment. It includes 713 patients living in 26 different countries.

Imfinzi works by acting as a human antibody that attaches to the PD-L1 protein found on the surface of cancer cells. It inhibits PD-L1 from interacting with two molecules, PD-1 and CD80, and ultimately prohibits the tumor from avoiding the immune system’s attack.

In a recent press release, Sean Bohen, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at AstraZeneca, said that although the company plans to reveal the full trial results in the near future, the preliminary data shows promise that Iminfzi will benefit early-stage lung cancer patients. For instance, in may 2017, AstraZeneca revealed that Imfinzi achieved its first objective by increasing progression-free survival, or PFS, by 11.2 months. PFS indicates the amount of time during or after cancer treatment that patients live without cancer advancement. In comparison with the placebo drug, then, Imfinzi considerably improved patients’ overall survival.

In response to these positive results, the U.S. and Canada have both recently approved the treatment for use in patients with advanced, inoperable, stable stage 3 NSCLC. The drug is also being reviewed in the EU, Japan, and other countries, and decisions about its approval should be available in late 2018.

As AstraZeneca generally studies a variety of forms, stages, and lines of therapy for lung cancer, they are looking at Imfinzi both as a monotherapy, or used on its own, and as a combination therapy with the immune checkpoint inhibitor tremelimumab and/or chemotherapy. In addition, they are testing how it works in combination with radiation therapy in patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma and head and neck cancer, as well as other types.