New drug offers hope to lung cancer patients
According to findings of a new clinical trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the drug, Nivolumab, can expose cancerous cells hiding from the body’s immune system.
The results also showed that the therapy can more than double life expectancy in some patients.
Nivolumab belongs to a class of drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors, which push the immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.
The immune system in humans is trained to fight infection, but it also attacks parts of the body if they malfunction - such as in cancers. Tumors, however, produce a protein called programmed death-1 (PD-1) to stop the immune system from attacking them.
Nivolumab removes PD-1 from the equation, freeing the immune system to fight cancer cells.
The trial, conducted in Europe and the US, showed that patients treated with Nivolumab lived about three months longer on average and had a 19.2 percent response rate compared with 12.4 percent in case of other medications.
The response also lasted about 17.1 months on average for Nivolumab-treated patients, versus 5.6 months for those on other medications.
Lung cancer is the most deadly type of cancer, leading to the deaths of nearly 1.6 million people worldwide every year. The disease is hard to treat as it is often diagnosed late.