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    Lung Cancer Drug Zaps Tumor Blood Vessels

    Study Finds Vadimezan Plus Chemo Prolongs Survival in Lung Cancer Patients
    By
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Jan. 13, 2010 (Coronado, Calif.) -- A new lung cancer drug that disrupts blood vessels within the tumor and inhibits blood flow to it looks promising, say researchers who are slated to report their findings Thursday at a cancer meeting in California.

    When added to traditional chemotherapy, the new drug, called vadimezan and also known as ASA404 or DMXAA, extended survival time, says Mark McKeage, PhD, an associate professor in clinical pharmacology at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, who is presenting the findings at the American Association for Cancer Research -- International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer meeting in Coronado, Calif.

    "Overall survival was improved numerically from a median of 8.8 to 14 months (half lived longer, half less)," McKeage tells WebMD. ''The safety profile is favorable.''

    In the phase II study, McKeage and his colleagues evaluated 108 patients who had advanced (stage IIIb or IV) non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer. They assessed 104 of them for the safety evaluation and 100 to compare survival differences. Non-small-cell lung cancer is further divided into squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that originates from squamous cells, which are cells that line the airways) and non-squamous cell carcinoma, which includes other cell types.

    Patients received either standard chemotherapy or chemo plus the new drug. Two different doses of the new drug were tried, McKeage says.

    Lung Cancer Drug: Study Results

    Giving patients the drug in addition to chemo didn't increase the toxicity of the chemo, McKeage found, and survival was greater with the combined approach at either dose.

    When McKeage looked at those with squamous cancers, survival was 10.2 months in those who got the drug plus the chemo, compared with 5.5 months in those who received chemo alone.

    For patients with non-squamous cancers, survival was 14.9 months with the combination therapy but 11 months on chemo alone.

    "The range in survival is from a few weeks up to over a year, 18 months," he says. "One of these people is still alive, disease free, over four years after treatment. This patient had a fantastic response and then went [on] and had surgery [for the cancer]."

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