Two clinical trials showed positive so Food and Drug Administration approved the breakthrough drug for treating common lung cancer ahead of schedule. These trial results came from Providence Cancer Center in Portland.
Patients of squamous non-small cell lung cancer, a form of lung cancer that is incurable have participated in the study. 40,000 individuals suffer from the disease in America alone. Lung cancer being the top killer.
Produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb, this newly approved drug is known as Opdivo (nivolumab). It is a part of a new type of cancer drugs that work with body defense mechanism to fight cancer. It differs from chemotherapy as chemo aims directly on the cancer cells while this new therapy boosts the body’s immunity to kill the cancer cells.
Opdivo works by targeting PD-1, a protein made by cancer cells to hide themselves from the natural defense system of the body. As these cancer cells remain hidden from the immune system, they flourish and grow in numbers. Opdivo then attacks PD-1 so cancer cells won’t be able to hide, the immune system of the body kills them when they are exposed.
FDA approved Opdivo for the patients of advanced melanoma in December. The drug was approved for advanced squamous non-small cell lung cancer patients just this week.
Dr. Rachel Sanborn, oncologist and co-director of the thoracic oncology program at Providence Cancer Center said, “This is the first time an immunotherapy drug has been approved for lung cancer. This is a totally new arena. It’s very exciting. It’s the beginning point, not the end point.”
Around 117 patients had participated in the nationwide clinical trial for the drug conducted at Providence Cancer Center by Dr. Sanborn. Out of the 272 patients who participated with advanced squamous non-small cell lung cancer, about 15% of the patients resulted to a shrinkage of their tumor.