A new study said that the drug that targets the disease fighting immune system of the body can improve survival for the commonest form of lung cancer. It can also be used as treatment of the skin cancer melanoma.
It was revealed on last Friday’s meeting which presented a study revealing that immune therapies is able to work with all types of common cancer like colon, liver, neck, lung and head.
Doctors were able to predict which patients will respond well to the new treatments.
The immune therapy drugs aid the body’s immune system in identifying cancer and attacking it.
Bristol -Myers Squibb’s Opdivo or op-DEE-voh, blocks protein preventing the immune system from the cancer cell attack. For patients with non small cell lung cancer diagnosed in 120,000 people more each year nationwide, this drug worked much better than chemotherapy.
Also called nivolumba, Opdivo, is the drug for the treatment of less common lung cancer form approved in March. Keytruda and Yervoy are two other immune therapies also approved for melanoma treatment.
Chief medical officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Richard Schilsky and the meeting organizer said, “These drugs are among the most promising drugs that have come along in many years.”
A number of 600 patients were assigned randomly to receive Opdiovo infusions or docetaxel every two weeks, the chemotherapy drug for the study.
Almost 20% opdivo patients exhibited shrinkage of tumors against about 12 % of the others.
Average survival was over 12 months for opdivo patients compared to about nine months for the chemo patients. This figure may seem unremarkable, but long term survival changes are normally nil for these patients.
“This is a huge step forward for treatment, but we have a long way to go to be able to personalize this type of therapy for all lung cancer patients,” said the senior author, Dr. Julie Brahmer of Johns Hopkins University.