Using a special type of cell known as a dendritic cell that is a key regulator in the immune system, a U.S. company has created an immunotherapy Treatment for Lung Cancer that is personalized to the patient’s specific tumor characteristics. Now, in a Phase II clinical trial, the anti-cancer drug targets newly diagnosed Stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
Immunotherapy uses the body’s own immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. The aim of immunotherapy is to harness the strength of the immune system in a specifically focused attack on cancer cells, while avoiding the broader toxic effects of chemotherapy.
Patients with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure, have seen progress in a rash of immunotherapy clinical trials. With limited success in standard treatments, all eyes are on this trial in anticipation of a mesothelioma treatment option that harnesses the power of the immune system.
In the study from the Cancer Research Network of Nebraska (CRNN) using AGS-003, from Argos Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology company focused on truly individualized immunotherapies for cancer treatment, the researchers have found a way to take RNA from a patient’s tumor sample, “amplify” the RNA and introduce it into “matured, autologous dendritic cells.” The modified dendritic cells are then given to the patient. The treatment is offered in combination with standard platinum-doublet chemotherapy with or without radiation.
“The standard of treatment of NSCLC has been chemotherapy after surgery, but now we can offer this exciting new option of individualized immunotherapy,” said Dr. Stephen Lemon, co-principal investigator and president of Oncology Associates, in a March 23 press release. “We are thrilled to participate in this exciting study and are hopeful that AGS-003 will be safe and effective, and help our patients fight this terrible disease.
Pleural mesothelioma attacks the lining of the lungs, leaving patients with few effective treatment options. Like lung cancer, the standard protocol often includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, mesothelioma nearly always fights off the effects of chemotherapy opening the door for the cancer to recur. However, the latest breakthroughs in immunotherapy treatment brings hope to many in the mesothelioma community that an effective treatment is on the horizon.
“The CRNN team is among the most prominent and experienced oncology research groups in the Midwest, and we look forward to their efforts to rapidly advance this important clinical research and expand the potential indications for the use of AGS-003,” said Lee F. Allen, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer at Argos.
Close to 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.
For more information about the clinical trial see ClinicalTrials.gov.