New treatment options in lung cancer
New treatment options in lung cancer
New treatment options for
• Lung cancer is a
leading cause of
death world wide
90% of lung cancer is
caused by smoking
20% of patients are
suitable for surgery
5% of all cases have
5 year survival
• Most of the patients are in
advanced stages and have very
Only 20% of patients are
operable and only 5% of all
cases survive 5 years
In general, patients with
untreated lung cancer survive 8
• Lung cancer is classified
based on TNM system
Tumor, Node, Metastasis)
The most common
among lung cancers is
non-small cell lung
Diagnosis by history and
Spiral CT screening
Surgery is a treatment of
Cure is rare
New treatment options
To survive and replicate cancer cells have very complex molecular
pathways. Many epithelial tumors have abnormally activated epidermal
growth factor (EGF). Several mechanisms lead to the activation of
epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). This activation promotes series
Two classes of EGFR anti-cancer agents:
• Erlotinib is an anti – EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor. This drug has
been approved for treatment of the patients with locally advanced
or metastatic non – small cell lung cancer after failure at least one
prior chemotherapy regimen. It was approved in U.S. in November
• Erlotinib is the only EGFR TKI therapy that have shown to improve
the survival for NSCLC patients (6.7 months vs. 4.7 months for
erlotinib and placebo respectively)
• Erlotinib has proved to be safe for patients. Only 5% of patients had
to discontinue treatment because of toxicity.
• Some groups of patients may
benefit more from this drug.
They are: female patients,
nonsmokers, patients of Asian
decent, and patients with
• The most recent research of
2006 made a discovery of
EGFR mutations in tumor cells.
This mutant EGFR is required
for tumor maintenance.
Surprisingly, Erlotinib was
found to be more efficacious in
mutant EGFR (Mendelsohn,
• Iressa (Gefitinib) is very similar to Erlotinib. It was the first
selective EGFR inhibitori. Iressa reseived accelerated approval
based on the data from phase II study. However, Iressa failed to
improve a survival advantage in confirmatory trials requested by
• Some scientists have speculated that Iressa and Tarceva had
different interactions depending on the type of mutations in EGF
receptors in human lung cancer. There are at least twenty
different mutations in EGFR and scientists do not know if the
same drug has the same effect for every mutation.
• Another issue that has been discussed by research community
was the use of different doses, suggesting that higher dose of
Iressa was still probably effective (Twombly, 2006).
• The second class of EGFR
agents is represented by
It is a MONOCLONAL
ANTIBODY that binds to
EGFR and inhibits
phosphorylation of EGFR
and its signaling
• Cetuximab is less
has its definite
demonstrated to be
effective on Gefitinib
Angiogenesis is one of the hallmarks
of tumor formation. Majority of
NSCLC tumors express vascular
endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Studies proved that the higher
expression of VEGF correlate
with poor prognosis for lung
cancer patients (Herbst, 2006).
Bevasizumab is a recombinant
humanized monoclonal antibody
Molecular pathways involved
in stimulation and
proliferation of cancer cells
are involved in multiple
levels. If one molecular
target is blocked by anticancer agent, the others can
be an escape routes for
cancer cell stimulators.
This concept brought the
next step in exploring
possibilities of anti-cancer
research. Combining drugs
that affect different pathways
can have additional clinical
benefits (Sandler, 2006)
Based on this concept, some investigators have
speculated that the use of EGFR TKI with new
agiogenesis inhibitors can be more efficacious.
Preliminary data has shown no pharmacokinetic
interaction between Erlotinib and Bevasizumab. The
median overall survival for the treated patients was 12.6
months vs. 4 months for control group, with
progression free survival of 6.2 months vs. 2.5 months
for untreated controls.
Lovastatin is inhibitor of 3-NMG CoA
reductase. It leads to the inhibition
of EGF-induced EGFR
autophosphorylation and its
signaling cascade within 24 hours.
Studies of combining Lovastatin and
Erlotinib showed inhanced inhibition
and cytotoxisity in a variety of cell
lines. However, combinig Lovastatin
and Erlotinib is contraindicated
because of high risk of toxicity (both
drugs are metabolized by CYP3A4).
Rosuvastatin + Erlotinib
New possible alternative is mevolanate
pathway inhibitor Rosuvastatin. The
studies of combining Erlotinib and
Rosuvastatin are proposed for a phase
I/II in advanced non-small cell lung
• Lung tumors induce very immunosuppressive
microenvironment. This may explain a very high
unresponsiveness to immunological-based
therapies. To enhance immunotherapy the use
of COX-2 inhibitors was suggested. Although this
mechanism is poorly understood, it has shown
some effect on improvement in immunotherapy.
Blocking arginase I through careful use of COX-2
inhibitors promoted better outcomes of
immunotherapy of lung cancer (Rodriguez,
Lung cancer blood test
• A team of University of Kentucky
Chandler Medical Center
researchers has been working on
developing the blood test to
detect lung cancer in early stages.
The blood test identifies body’s
own immune response to tumors.
This test is 90 % accurate and
diagnostic for lung cancer at early
stages in the patients with high
risk factors such as smoking,
family history and age. This test
can correctly predict NSCLC years
before CT scan can detect it.
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