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Lung Cancer Drug Zaps Tumor Blood Vessels

Study Finds Vadimezan Plus Chemo Prolongs Survival in Lung Cancer Patients
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Lung Cancer Drug: Study Results continued...

The most commonly reported side effects were blood and lymphatic disorders, reported by about 18%, but no serious adverse events were reported with lung hemorrhage or bleeding, a side effect that has accompanied other lung cancer drug therapy, McKeage says. The improvement is encouraging and warrants further investigation by proceeding to the phase III trial, he says.

McKeage was the principal investigator for the study, which was funded by Antisoma, who later licensed the drug to Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. McKeage has consulted for both companies and received research funds from both.

Vadimezan works in a different way than another cancer drug that focuses on blood vessels, Avastin, McKeage says. They compare favorably, but vadimezan has fewer side effects.

Recruitment for the phase III study is complete, he says. He predicts the new drug may be on the market by 2012 or so.

''One of the important points of this analysis is that it shows the efficacy and safety profile [of the drug] was similar in squamous and non-squamous patients,'' McKeage says.

Lung Cancer Drug: Second Opinion

The results of the vadimezan study represent "a considerable improvement in survival," says Paul A. Bunn Jr., MD, professor of medicine, James Dudley Chair in Cancer Research at the University of Colorado, Denver, and executive director of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

"Almost every year now, we are getting [new] drugs that improve survival in lung cancer patients." However, he adds, "we have a long way to go."

In the U.S., about 219,000 new cases of lung cancer were expected to be diagnosed in 2009, with 159,000 expected deaths from the disease, according to American Cancer Society estimates. Survival rates depend on the stage, with the five-year survival rate for stage IV non-small-cell lung cancer just 1%, according to the society.

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