8 posts in the category “Cancer”

2 immunotherapy treatments in the news: Imfinzi and Keytruda update

Posted May 10th, 2018 by

Two immunotherapy treatments — Imfinzi (durvalumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) — have made headlines recently in relation to lung cancer treatment. What’s the latest? Here’s an update.

Expanded FDA approval for Imfinzi

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Imfinzi as a bladder cancer treatment in 2017. Imfinzi is marketed by AstraZeneca.

In February 2018, the FDA approved Imfinzi for some lung cancer cases — specifically for patients with “stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer [NSCLC] who are not able to be treated with surgery to remove their tumor, and whose cancer has not gotten worse after they received chemotherapy along with radiation (chemoradiation),” the American Cancer Society (ACS) explains.

A few more details on Imfinzi, according to the ACS:

  • The goal of treatment with this drug is to keep the cancer from getting worse for as long as possible (researchers call this “progression-free survival”).
  • The new approval for Imfinzi was based on a randomized clinical trial of 713 people, which found that those who received the drug had an average progression-free survival of 16.8 months compared to 5.6 months for those in the trial who did not receive it.
  • Imfinzi is a “checkpoint inhibitor” drug that targets and blocks the PD-L1 protein to help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells (learn more about PD-L1 here, and read about possible Imfinzi side effects here)

The new approval for Imfinzi applies to very specific cases of NSCLC, but Reuters says it represents “a chance to intervene earlier in lung cancer,” since other approved immunotherapy treatments are tackling advanced or metastatic cancer.

Positive research on Keytruda + chemotherapy

Keytruda is another “checkpoint inhibitor” immunotherapy treatment that’s already on the market but making big headlines, thanks to new clinical trial findings.

Research published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that Keytruda is useful in combination with standard chemotherapy in the majority of patients diagnosed with an advanced form of lung cancer — specifically those with previously untreated metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC without EGFR or ALK gene mutations.

“Doctors already prescribe Keytruda to patients if a lab test shows that they are likely to respond to this drug,” NPR reports. “But Merck, the company that makes it, wanted to find out how the drug works in patients who aren’t obvious candidates as determined by that blood test… It turns out that Keytruda, in combination with standard chemotherapy, also works in patients even if they have a low score on the lab test, which measures something called the tumor proportion score for PD-L1.”

The phase 2 clinical trial involved 616 patients with advanced lung cancer from medical centers in 16 countries (check out this PatientsLikeMe guide to clinical trials and drug approvals).

“The findings, medical experts say, should change the way doctors treat lung cancer: Patients with this form of the disease should receive immunotherapy as early as possible,” The New York Times reports, along with more details on the research.

Check out PatientsLikeMe member’s treatment evaluations of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) here (become a member for access to more information). And see our previous round-up on lung cancer research and treatments (with many studies still ongoing).

Full disclosure: PatientsLikeMe is currently partnering with AstraZeneca on research projects. We’ve also partnered with Merck in the past. The article above is not sponsored – this topic has made headlines lately and we like to share relevant health news to help keep our communities informed. Questions about our partnerships? At PatientsLikeMe, we’re all about transparency so check out who we’ve worked with here.

Looking for more information on patients’ experiences and treatments for lung cancer? Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with 9,000+ members with lung cancer.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.


Health news: What’s making headlines this month

Posted May 8th, 2018 by

Let’s stay on top of the latest health news — in case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in May.

ALS
  • May is ALS awareness month: Later this month, advocates from across the U.S. will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators. Check out how you can get involved and join the fight against ALS.
  • Congress passes $3 billion increase in NIH funding: $140 million of the increase will go to the BRAIN Initiative research projects that contribute to the knowledge and understanding of ALS. More info.
Lupus
  • May is Lupus Awareness Month: Nearly two-thirds of people know little or nothing about lupus beyond the name, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, which is promoting the “Go Purple” campaign. Get ideas for boosting awareness.

  • A link between the “mono” virus and lupus? A new study published in Nature Genetics shows that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) — known for causing mononucleosis — may increase the risk of lupus and six other autoimmune diseases by changing how some genes are expressed. Check it out.
Parkinson’s Disease
  • “Suspect” Parkinson’s drug faces scrutiny: Following reports of hundreds of deaths and adverse events, the FDA is re-examining the safety of Nuplazid (pimavanserin), which was approved in 2016 for treating hallucinations and delusions associated with PD. Read more.
Lung cancer
  • Emerging treatments for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC): Immunotherapy and other emerging drugs called PARP inhibitors and Rova-T(Rovalpituzumab tesirine) are among a group of new therapies showing “early promise” in clinical trials for the treatment of patients with SCLC. Hear from one patient.
MS
  • Life after a stem cell transplant: The BBC’s Caroline Wyatt had a stem cell transplant in Mexico to reboot her immune system. A year later, she shares how she’s doing. Read Caroline’s story.
  • New drug for secondary progressive MS: Phase 3 clinical trial results show that a new drug could slow down the progression of symptoms for people living with secondary progressive MS. Get the scoop.
Mental health
  • Ever heard of forest bathing? Research from the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo found that just standing in the woods could reduce depression scores and improve immune function. They also found some surprising benefits of dirt… Get the full story.
  • Looking closer at medical marijuana strains and doses: A new study draws from user-reported data on marijuana smoking habits to understand the effect of weed on depression and anxiety. From different strains to number of “puffs,” see what was uncovered.
  • Combining treatments for better results: Researchers at the University of Texas found they could boost the positive effects of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) by adding transcranial magnetic stimulation. More info.

Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.