Drug manufacturers are currently working on figuring out which new cancer drugs will work best based on a protein found in the tumors of cancer patients, but researchers and other health experts say the guide, which is known as a biomarker, may not be reliable. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co. are among the manufacturers working on the study.
According to Channel News Asia, the drugs target patients with so-called solid tumors who suffer from conditions like lung and liver cancer. Bristol’s Opdivo and Merck’s Keytruda are both designed to block a protein known as the “Programmed Death” receptor (PD-1) from manifesting in the body. Tumors are known to use this receptor to evade the body’s natural defenses.
The new data, which was published last Friday, shows Opdivo to be most beneficial to lung cancer patients with the highest levels of PD-L1 in their tumors, further reinforcing evidence of a link. The findings suggest doctors should routinely test for the protein prior to prescribing the drug. This formula is already being used for some cancer drugs that are prescribed only when patients exhibit a specific genetic mutation.
While clinical trials show that drugs like Opdivo and Keytruda work best in people who test positive for PD-L1, some patients who test negative have also seen benefit from the cancer treatment. In an interview with CNBC, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s CEO Giovanni Caforio indicated they’ve discovered that “it is a continuum” which “varies by tumor, it varies by line of therapy, so, for example, in a group of patients with non-squamous lung cancer, opdivo doubles survival, but in a broad patient population, it was also active.”
It is a continuum. It varies by tumor, it varies by line of therapy, so, for example, in a group of patients with non-squamous lung cancer, Opdivo doubles survival, but in a broad patient population, it was also active.
According to Channel News Asia, Dr. Richard Pazdur, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oncology chief, has cautioned that there is still a great deal of uncertainty about how best to measure PD-L1. According to Pazdur, the key issue is whether the biomarker is essential for safe and effective use of the drug.
In other cancer coverage here at Immortal News, a couple of immunotherapy drugs have shown promise in treating lung and skin cancer and that’s not all, the technique, which employs use of the body’s own immune system to combat the invasive growth known as cancer, has also shown success in reducing the size of tumors. It’s being hailed by doctors as a cancer treatment breakthrough which could revolutionize the way we treat cancer.