A dramatic shift in the treatment paradigm in lung cancer is on the horizon

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As part of World Lung Cancer Day 2018, Volkan Gunduz, PhD, Senior Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on the changing lung cancer treatment landscape:

”The lung cancer treatment landscape is currently undergoing a notable reduction in the clinical development of chemotherapies and a significant increase in the development of targeted therapy approaches, which are driven by improved understanding of the genetic drivers in lung tumorigenesis.

“Moving forward, GlobalData anticipates immuno-oncology approaches and targeted therapies to take over in lung cancer treatment paradigm, which will become increasingly personalized by tailoring treatments according to each patient’s status of the immune system as well as genetic makeup of the tumor.

“In addition to their groundbreaking role in the current treatment paradigm, the disruptive role of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICPs) is evident in the late stage clinical development in lung cancer.

“ICPs are a testament to the importance of an intact immune system in tumor surveillance and eradication, and their success in boosting the immune response spurred a lot of excitement and investment in novel mechanisms that impinge on the immune system.

“Other new therapy classes are also emerging such as cellular immunotherapy, cancer vaccine, and virus-based therapy. A common characteristic of all three therapy classes as well as ICPs is that they all aim to strengthen tumor-specific immune responses which are more effective and durable compared to clinical benefit derived from chemotherapy.”

The approval of immune ICPs has been transformative in lung cancer, particularly for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). While patients were heavily dependent on chemotherapy prior to the advent of ICPs, multiple ICPs are now providing clinical benefit to a significant proportion of patients with relapsed/refractory disease. Currently Merck & Co.’s Keytruda is the only ICP approved for treatment naïve patients in NSCLC and GlobalData anticipates other ICPs to enter this segment starting in 2019, establishing ICPs as the new standard of care in front-line treatment setting.

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