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Vaccine May Help Slow Spread of Lung Cancer

Experimental Vaccine Targets a Protein Linked to Many Cases of Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Determining Who Will Benefit the Most continued...

"The most promising part of the study is where they say that rather than treat everyone with this vaccine, can we find a way to select appropriate patients to receive it," Raftopoulos says. "Teasing that out moves the field forward."

Overall, though, Raftopoulos felt the study results are not yet conclusive, given the small number of patients involved and the small differences in treatment outcomes between the two groups.

"I've seen a lot of early-phase trials that look promising only to be followed by larger ones that show no differences," he says.

Alan Sandler, MD, a lung cancer specialist at Oregon Health and Science University, is intrigued by the possibility that the researchers may have identified a potential biomarker for treatment.

"They met their endpoint, but the outcome overall seems modest," says Sandler. "But it is exciting that they were able to define a subset of patients that did well, and it is appropriate that they are going on to phase 3 trials."

The study was funded by Transgene SA, a French company specializing in immunotherapies for cancer and other infectious diseases, which is developing the TG4010 vaccine in partnership with Swiss drug maker Novartis, and by ADNA/OSEO, a French government-funded program for personalized medicine.

The American Cancer society estimates that just over 220,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. The disease is expected to kill nearly 160,000 people.

Lung cancer accounts for more than a quarter of all cancers. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths among men and women, more than colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.

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