Lung cancer pill may get second chance after tests

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lung cancer pill Iressa has shown surprising results for patients with advanced disease where it has been at least as effective as a standard chemotherapy treatment, researchers reported on Thursday.

Patients who got the once-a-day pill made by AstraZeneca lived as long as those given the chemotherapy treatment Sanofi-Aventis’ Taxotere or docetaxel, the international team of researchers found.

This is second-line treatment, traditionally offered after a course of combined chemotherapies that can last months and is still considered the best approach to lung cancer.

“The study is the first time in lung cancer that an oral biological agent has been tested head-to-head against chemotherapy,” Dr. Edward Kim of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and colleagues wrote in the Lancet medical journal.

Kim’s team tested 1,466 patients in 24 countries who had completed a first course of standard chemotherapy. Half got Iressa as second-line treatment and half got docetaxel. Both sets of patients lived about as long — eight months on average.

Dr. Michael Cullen of University Hospital Birmingham in Britain, who wrote a commentary on the findings, noted that Iressa is far less toxic than chemotherapy, including Taxotere, and is very convenient to take.

“I think there will be patients for whom it will be favored,” he said.

But he said in a telephone interview tests supposed to show who would do better on so-called targeted therapies like Iressa failed to predict who would benefit from them.

Iressa was once viewed as a likely blockbuster for the Anglo-Swedish group which makes it, but its failure in a clinical trial in 2004 dealt a major blow for the product and it is now seen by analysts as a niche medicine.

SIDE EFFECTS

Lung cancer kills 1.2 million people a year and is the top cause of cancer death globally. Many drugs are used to treat it but almost always stop working eventually, in part because most patients are not diagnosed until tumors have spread.

Chemotherapy, infused over a period of several hours, targets rapidly growing cells and thus often has severe side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and hair loss.

Iressa, known generically as gefitinib, is a monoclonal antibody, a genetically engineered immune system molecule, that targets a molecule called epidermal growth factor receptor or EGFR. Tumors use EGFR to grow themselves blood supplies.

Such targeted therapies have far fewer side effects.

AstraZeneca stopped selling Iressa in the United States after tests showed it only helped about 10 percent of patients. But it continued trials, including this one, in part because there was tantalizing evidence that some people — notably non-smokers, Asians and women — did better on Iressa.  Continued…

Source

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Related Posts:


By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Combining two chemotherapy drugs with two targeted therapies was safe and appeared to help patients with advanced lung cancer live longer, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday. The combination of Roche and Co’s Avastin, ImClone’s Erbitux, carboplatin and paclitaxel appeared to add an average of two months to

Full Post: Four drug combination helps in lung cancer: U.S. study
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LONDON (Reuters) - Greek researchers have identified the chemotherapy combinations that appear to help women with advanced breast cancer live longest, they reported Tuesday. Women who took a combination of a taxane-based therapy such as Taxol or paclitaxel, or Sanofi Aventis’s Taxotere, known generically as docetaxel, with other drugs lived a year longer than women who

Full Post: Certain chemotherapy combinations work best
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LONDON (Reuters) - Roche Holding AG’s lung cancer drug Tarceva has won final approval for use by Britain’s state health service after the Swiss drugmaker agreed to discount the price of the medicine. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) now recommends Tarceva as an alternative to Sanofi-Aventis SA’s Taxotere for people who have

Full Post: Roche wins final UK okay for discounted Tarceva
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new type of imaging compound can literally light up spreading cancer cells and may offer a way to track the deadly spread of the disease, Japanese and U.S. researchers reported on Sunday. They used the new compound to monitor the spread of breast and ovarian cancer cells in living mice, using a

Full Post: Compound lights up spreading cancer cells
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Nearly one in five cancer drugs entering development now reach the market, a remarkably good success rate given the high level of failures in other disease areas, British researchers said on Friday . A study by Cancer Research UK, based on 974 cancer drugs starting initial Phase I clinical trials since

Full Post: Modern cancer drugs more likely to get to market

Site Navigation

Most Read

Search