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An Expert’s Insight to Lung Cancer Treatment Developments

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Published on December 13, 2019

Key Takeaways

  • Patient outcomes with targeted drugs that suppress one particular pathway. 
  • Finding other pathways or second drivers may lead to combination therapies.
  • Researchers are looking at treating sub-types of lung cancer.

What’s on the horizon in lung cancer care? Patient Power’s Laura Levaas talks with her doctor, expert Dr. Ross Camidge, from the University of Colorado, about lung cancer treatments in development.

Dr. Camidge explains how researchers are identifying subtypes and second drivers in patients, using more targeted therapies, and the hope for managing lung cancer as a chronic disease. 

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power. We thank Celgene Corporation, Novartis, and Pfizer for their support. These organizations have no editorial control. It is produced solely by Patient Power.

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Transcript | An Expert’s Insight to Lung Cancer Treatment Developments

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Laura Levaas:               

Leslie wants to know, what do you see in the near future for treatment of lung cancer?

And she lists a couple of things like a fourth generation TKI, immunotherapy.

Dr. Camidge:                

So, the concept of the fourth generation TKI, I mean, I assume that’s because we have a third generation TKI and therefore, the next one must be called the fourth generation. So, I don’t know that the generations of TKI is going to be the immediate solution.

If I had to say what I think the future is going to hold, there’s a couple of things. So, one is I think we can—and we’ll use ALK as an example. But really, ALK is this model system that everybody else with lung cancer might like to replicate. So, we’re really good at developing drugs that are great at suppressing one particular pathway that is driving some people’s cancer.

But the cancer still grows eventually. Usually now, with some of the drugs—like the one you’re on and the third-generation drug—is that they’re not growing, because they’re turning back on the same pathway. What they’re doing is, they’re growing through some other pathway coming up. So, finding these other pathways, these so-called second drivers, is going to lead to rational combinations of drugs. That’s one way.

The other thing which is kind of the elephant in the room is, well we have these drugs. You have these fantastic responses on the scans. But if you stop the drug, the cancer starts to grow. And if you go back on the drug a week later, it’ll shrink down. So, you clearly haven’t killed all of the cells which are even sensitive to that drug. So, until we can address why we can’t get 100 percent cell kill—that’s a technical term—we’re never going to deal with the elephant in the room, which is, why can’t we actually cure people?

And that’s a very different situation from, why does the cancer grow three years later? The question is, why, when you walk through the door and you have a great response on the scan, if you had a magic microscope, why is there still one in 1,000 cells left? And that to me is actually the horizon we need to look for.

Laura Levaas:

How long do you think it will take until lung cancer will be a chronically managed disease?

Dr. Camidge:                

Well, I think for some people, it already is. So, I now have 10-year stage IV survivors who are still alive and still thriving, to use your word. So, for those people, it’s a reality. And I don’t know—as I said, people will make their own rules—don’t know how long they will go. I mean, I honestly do not know how long I can control their disease. You just have to stay alive and in the game and hope that breakthroughs will happen.

Now, then the challenge is, okay, “Well, what about me? I don’t have ALK. I don’t have—whatever.” And you go, okay, well, so, everyone—we have to try and replicate the success of the ALK positive population with all of the other sub-types of lung cancer or the ones that don’t even have a label yet. And so, there’s plenty of work to do.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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