He said that tumor cells were like bags of hidden proteins that, if exposed, the immune system could use as targets to find and attack cancer.
"The concept of interception is simple when you hear it, to arrest the natural history of cancer".
Other studies in lung cancer have involved another checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab, or Opdivo (made by Bristol-Myers Squibb), which works in a similar way to pembrolizumab. "We are hopeful this breakthrough, and the follow-up clinical studies already under way, will translate into a new standard of care". "That's tremendous progress for patients with lung cancer". SU2C is now funding four Cancer Interception teams focusing on lung and pancreatic cancer. I lead the Yale lung team.
"Some families in China do not have decent or any ventilators to expel the cooking oil smoke which could lead to lung cancer even if they don't smoke", said Wang Xiujian, a member of the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association (CACA).
Combining standard chemotherapy with pembrolizumab was "superior in terms of response - keeping people alive without progression of their cancer - and improving the overall survival of patients with metastatic lung cancer compared to chemotherapy alone", Dr. Gandhi said.
Doctors are concluding trials on animals and working towards a clinical protocol - a step towards developing a human clinical trial using gene editing to improve a patient's responses to different treatments for lung cancer. "By merging our resources in this way, we had the capacity to optimize results right out of the starting block".
The study was published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"These data suggest atezolizumab plus bevacizumab plus chemotherapy provides a new treatment option for these key patient populations".
Patients in the study had advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
But the median survival among the study participants who received both immunotherapy and chemo has yet to be reached. The remaining two people died, one of cancer, and the other of an unrelated head injury. SU2C is cautious not to compare these outcomes with historical outcomes given that it was a small study.
Safety-wise 31% of patients on the Opdivo/Yervoy combination experiencing grade 3-4 treatment related adverse events, versus 36% on chemotherapy.
Recalling a patient with advanced lung cancer whose tumor disappeared and has not grown back after finishing treatment 24 months ago, Gomez said, "I'm now becoming much more optimistic that if we can really find a way to flawless this treatment and to really figure out who are the patients who do the best and why that we may be able to do something like get rid of lung cancer for at least some patients".
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. But the findings are especially promising news in the fight against lung cancer - the world's deadliest type of cancer.
The study is being conducted in collaboration with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, Ellen Ziffren, and Kathleen Lobb. Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, has served as SU2C's president and CEO since 2011.