Lung Cancer: Cutting-Edge Treatments
Learn about some of the latest therapies developed to treat lung cancer -- and raise survival rates.
Targeted Treatment for Lung Cancer continued...
And, in addition to hopefully improving treatment, targeted drugs often
decrease side effects.
Now researchers hope Avastin plus chemotherapy might cure people with
early-stage lung cancer. "If this gives us the same kind of benefit in
advanced disease, which I think it probably will, this will be probably one of
the biggest life-savers for lung cancer," Rigas says.
Another targeted treatment -- approved for lung cancer in 2004 -- is
Tarceva, which targets a protein found on cancer cells that helps them
This drug was tested as a sole treatment on people with late-stage lung
cancer who had not done well with chemotherapy. On average, those taking
Tarceva lived two months longer than those taking a placebo, and also found an
easing of symptoms.
Antibody Therapy for Lung Cancer
Your immune system does not see cancer cells as a threat, destroying them
like it does viruses, bacteria, and foreign tissue. But the immune system can
be trained to attack tumors, and researchers have taken the first steps toward
creating lung cancer drugs that work this way.
One approach is called "targeted antibody therapy," where the immune
system recognizes a molecule called an antigen on the surface of an invader,
creates an antibody which latches onto the antigen, then destroys the
This works because some cancer cells have antigens that don't show up on the
vast majority of normal, healthy cells. And because the body doesn't naturally
make antibodies against these cancer antigens, scientists have.
Andrew Scott, MD, head of the Melbourne, Australia branch of the Ludwig
Institute for Cancer Research, has tested an antibody that targets the tissue
which supports a tumor. In a phase I clinical trial -- a study that tests a
drug's safety -- people with advanced lung cancer or colon cancer were injected
with the antibody. Then, using special dyes, researchers tracked where the
What they found were "very high concentrations in the cancer but very
low concentrations in any other normal tissue," says Scott, meaning the
antibody targets tumors specifically and that treatment will likely cause
little damage to healthy cells.