‘Milestone’ Lung Cancer Therapy Hailed
A study of 582 people, conducted in Europe and the US, has found that Nivolumab leaves cancer cells open to attack from the body’s immune system by preventing them from being able to hide.
Lung cancer kills almost 1.6 million people worldwide every year and is particularly difficult to treat as it is usually diagnosed late and sufferers often have other smoking-related diseases which make them unsuitable for surgery.
The trial involved patients who had advanced lung cancer and had already tried other treatments. Individuals who were on standard therapy at this stage lived for another 9.4 months, but those being treated with Nivolumab lived for an average of 12.2 months.
However, patients whose tumours were producing high levels of PD-L1 – a protein that inhibits the body’s natural defences – lived for another 19.4 months after taking Nivolumab.
The study’s lead researcher, Dr Luis Paz-Ares from the Hospital Universitario Doce de Octubre in Madrid, Spain, said: "[The results] mark a milestone in the development of new treatment options for lung cancer."
The data was presented by pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the findings were described as "giving real hope to patients".
Cancer Research UK welcomed the results of the study and said that harnessing the power of the body’s immune system would be an "essential part" of cancer treatment.
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