Lung Cancer Drug Could Be 'Game-Changer'
Roche drug more effective on smokers than non-smokers: study
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2013 9:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – An experimental drug is actually more effective against lung cancer in patients who smoke than those who never have, Reuters reports. MPDL3280A, a Roche drug, is "great news for lung cancer patients," who are notoriously difficult to treat, researchers say; one oncologist says early-stage trials suggest it is "definitely a game-changer." In 53 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors, 23% saw their tumors get smaller. But 26% of smokers saw their tumors respond, compared to just 10% of those who had never smoked.

"Bingo, this is the first targeted agent (drug) that shows more activity in smokers than in non-smokers," says the lead researcher. Why? The drug targets PD-L1, a protein that tumors use to manipulate T-cells in the immune system. The cells go inactive, and the tumors grow. MPDL3280A, an engineered antibody, blocks PD-L1; the T-cells awaken, grow, and multiply as they attack the cancer. The drug worked best on patients with higher levels of PD-L1, Bloomberg reports. Smokers have more genetic mutations in their tumors than non-smokers, and researchers think that's why their immune systems might respond more vigorously. Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb are working on similar immunotherapy drugs, and Roche is looking into the possibility that its drug could treat other cancers.

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Sep 30, 2013 5:26 PM CDT
I am going to classify that morning cup of coffee as a drug. Why not, if you are calling smoking only a drug. It can be described by smokers themselves as a dependency which includes the ritual like behavior. Taking a break to smoke. That is the least of my concerns as to how it pertains to the newser article above. My Father died of lung cancer, it was quite a loss. He had quit smoking 15 yrs. prior to dying. It was attributed to aesbestos. When these same pharmaceutical companies are militantly opposed to THR (Tobacco Harm Reduction) There are at least 11 million people worldwide that won't need this new wonder drug, with no side effects.....(?), having quit smoking the number one cause of lung cancer, due to the real enemy of the companies mentioned above. THR products are 99% safer alternatives as compared with smoking, the products: e-vaping electronic cigarettes, and snus. These evil giants of money made from other's suffering are so transparent and it's apparent that they are desperate to look like the heroes they are NOT!
Sep 30, 2013 3:03 PM CDT
In what "game" is 23% good?
Sep 30, 2013 1:23 PM CDT
R.I.P. Walter White