Cancer Biology

Durvalumab improves survival of patients with non-small cell lung cancer

In a recent research, it has been suspected that Durvalumab (an anti-cancer immunotherapy), may interfere with the ability of tumor cells to grow and spread. Durvalumab is an antineoplastic drug and an immune checkpoint inhibitor that has received approval in February by United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a new strategy for treating patients in their stage 3 of non-small cell lung cancer.

Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center, have investigated the increase in lifespan of patients suffering from the third stage of lung cancer when their treatment included durvalumab following platinum-based chemotherapy.  The research has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Compared to placebo, durvalumab has shown improved progression-free survival by 17.2 months in new clinical trial data. The drug administered intravenously blocks a protein called PD-L1 (Programmed cell death-ligand 1) and thereby increases T-cell activation.

Initially, in 2017, Durvalumab manufactured by AstraZeneca received approval by FDA for metastatic bladder cancer. However, chair of the Department of Thoracic Oncology at Moffitt, Scott Antonia, M. D., PhD., threw light upon the potential of durvalumab to serve as a treatment therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients.  Working with AstraZeneca, he launched the PACIFIC clinical trial, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled international phase 3 trial that spanned 235 investigative sites in 26 countries and enrolled more than 700 patients.

Approximately one-third of patients with non-small cell lung cancer have advanced stage 3 disease at the time of diagnosis. Standard treatment has been chemotherapy and radiation, but 85 percent of patients do not respond to the therapy,” said Antonia. “Adding durvalumab to the standard treatment has made a big impact for this group of patients. It’s allowing them to live longer and potentially increasing their chance for cure.

Based on two-year follow-up of patients, new clinical trial data concludes that giving Durvalumab with radiation therapy may work better in treating patients with non-small cell lung cancer and it shows promising results in increasing the survival rate of the lung cancer patients as compared to placebo on their treatment with this anti-cancerous drug.

Moffitt Cancer Center
New England Journal of Medicine

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