Ceritinib May Bring Another Treatment Option to Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma Patients


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In May, MesotheliomaHelp reported that crizotinib is better than chemotherapy in fighting brain metastasis in lung cancer patients. Now, researchers report that another drug, ceritinib, continued to improve response in patients even after they were treated with crizotinib.

Researchers from Italy, reporting on the final results of a phase II clinical trial designed to test the safety and efficacy of ceritinib in non-small cell lung cancer patients who have previously been treated with chemotherapy and crizotinib, found that the response to ceritinib was nearly immediate with tumor response noted at just 1.8 months and continuing for a median of 9.7 months.

Median progression-free survival was 5.7 months, median overall survival was 14.9 months, and the one-year overall survival rate was 63.8%, according to a July 18 article in Oncology Practice. 72% of the 140 patients in the trial had brain metastasis.

Ceritinib, marketed as Zykadia by Novartis, and crizotinib, or Xalkori from Pfizer, are both intended for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) in patients who express the abnormal anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. Approximately 3%-5% of people with NSCLC may test positive for the ALK fusion gene. There is a potential that the marker is also present in certain pleural mesothelioma cases making it a new treatment option for the disease.

Pleural mesothelioma is a rare form of lung cancer that invades the outer lining of the lungs called the mesothelium. The only known cause of mesothelioma is through inhalation or ingestion of airborne asbestos fibers. Both NSCLC and mesothelioma are aggressive cancers that typically build up a resistance to treatment and metastasize.

Research shows that metastasis is the cause of nearly 90 percent of cancer deaths, making it critically important that researchers fully understand how to stop metastasis to increase survival in mesothelioma patients. Due to its aggressive nature and the difficulty in treating mesothelioma the cancer nearly always recurs, often in the brain or liver.

“Ceritinib treatment provided clinically meaningful and durable responses with manageable tolerability in chemotherapy– and crizotinib-pretreated patients, including those with brain metastases,” the researchers concluded.

2,500 to 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the U.S. Mesothelioma takes decades to appear after exposure, but then advances rapidly.

The study can be found in the July 17 issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Find out more about the clinical trial at ClinicalTrials.gov.

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