New drug extends advanced lung cancer survival


A new drug can help advanced lung cancer patients live longer and may aid in treating other kinds of cancer, researchers said.

If the initial results are confirmed in a Phase III study already underway, it would be the first treatment developed in the past decade that can improve outcomes for patients with late-stage lung cancer.

Patients who received Synta's drug ganetespib had a median overall survival of 9.8 months, compared with 7.4 months for those who received the standard treatment.

The drug works by blocking a type of protein known as molecular chaperones that help newly formed proteins assume the proper shape needed to perform their specific biological function.

Since many of the proteins driving lung cancer growth require this chaperone - heat shock protein 90, or Hsp90 - blocking it can disable multiple cancer-fuelling proteins at the same time.

Hope for mutations

Researchers believe this may still work in patients who develop mutations that make them resistant to traditional targeted drugs because it ought to also inhibit the function of mutated proteins.

"This is the first randomised study to demonstrate therapeutic benefit with a heat shock protein inhibitor in patients with cancer," said lead study author Suresh Ramalingam, a professor of medical oncology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

"We hope that the ongoing Phase III study will confirm our findings, as patients with this common form and stage of lung cancer urgently need more effective treatments."

Early Hsp90 drugs did not succeed in previous clinical trials because they were not significantly effective at extending life and caused liver toxicity.

This is the first randomized clinical trial of a second generation inhibitor and the first time this class of drugs was shown to be both safe and effective.

The phase III study examined 252 patients with Stage IV lung adenocarcinoma, which accounts for about 45 percent of the 170,000 non-small cell lung cancer cases diagnosed each year in the United States.

It was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 921 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
54% - 5223 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
33% - 3232 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 312 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.