The cancer research community has come a long way in developing new drugs to battle cancer. Some of the newest, most advanced anti-cancer drugs are now making use of immunotherapy to modulate and in some cases eradicate cancer within the body — so much so that cancer immunotherapy was named the “Breakthrough Science of 2013” by Science magazine.
Of the many types of cancer, lung cancer remains one of the most fatal and difficult to treat, as it tends to go unnoticed until it has spread to other parts of the body. At present, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in Britain, killing over 35,000 individuals yearly — a number that is larger than the mortality rates of both bowel and breast cancer combined. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies continue to advance viable lung cancer treatments, with cancer immunotherapies beginning to lead the way in therapeutic advances for the disease. Recently, researchers have reported remarkable success in managing lung cancer with newer drugs such as nivolumab, a therapeutic produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb. Promising test results for the therapy were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in Chicago, the largest cancer summit.
According to the presentation at the summit, nearly 25% of 129 American patients in the study who were diagnosed with advanced lung cancer survived a minimum of 2 years while taking nivolumab. Dr. Mick Peake of Glenfield Hospital in Leicester cited these numbers as ‘extraordinary’ results for an anticancer drug. Additionally, he noted that 45% of those who were receiving the ideal dosage survived for more than 2 years.
According to Dr. Julie Brahmer of Baltimore’s John Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Centre, it is still too early to dub nivolumab as a cure for lung cancer, but they are all hoping it could lead to further advances and are determined to continue to research and develop the drug.