Glenn Mitchell has never even touched a cigarette - so he never expected to have lung cancer. Then another surprising thing happened… after less than two months of a new experimental treatment-- just three pills twice a day for four weeks-- his cancer was gone!
Mitchell is one of more than a hundred patients testing an experimental drug called Crizotinib. It targets a specific tumor cell abnormality- specifically the switch that turns on and off the cancer.
In recent studies, more than half the patients taking the experimental drug had tumor shrinkage or major change in their cancer.
Mitchell's treatment is going so well, he can think less about his lung cancer, and more about retirement.
Emory University researchers say the best candidates for the drug are non-small cell lung cancer patients, and it seems to work best in men who are non-smokers. Once patients start taking the drug, they must continue taking it for the rest of their lives. More than 100 patients are now participating in the international clinical trial.
BACKGROUND: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2006 alone, there were a total of 106,374 men and 90,080 women who were diagnosed with lung cancer. Even more shocking -- 89,243 men and 69,356 women actually died from the disease. Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer among white men and African American men, while it is the third most common cancer among Hispanic men. The same statistics hold true for white and African American women, as well as Hispanic women.
SYMPTOMS: Many people do not even know they have lung cancer because most of the time no noticeable signs and symptoms present themselves. Lung cancer is usually identified incidentally through chest x-rays. However, there are cases where people experience symptoms such as:
Coughing up blood
Shortness of breath
Wheezing or hoarseness
Repeated respiratory infections
TRYING NEW THINGS: The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is one of a handful of cancer facilities in the United States conducting an innovative clinical trial for non-small cell lung cancer. It's testing a new drug called Crizotinib. Crizotinib is an anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor in patients with advanced NSCLC. This drug is taken orally, three pills twice a day, and it targets an abnormality that is thought to trigger non-small cell lung cancer in certain people. It's currently thought to exert its effects through modulation of the growth, migration, and invasion of malignant cells. Researchers at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2010 Annual Meeting presented data from an ongoing study that showed Crizotinib caused tumors to shrink or stabilize in 90 percent of 82 patients carrying the anaplastic lymphoma kinase or ALK fusion gene.
"It tends to turn off the switch, and these patients are having very good responses to the treatment, and the cancer shrinks, or sometimes even merely disappears," Dr. Suresh Ramalingam told Ivanhoe. "This drug is a pill. It is taken orally by the patient. And what it does is that it acts as the activating step in the cancer cell. And by blocking that activation, it turns down the signals that the cancer feed on, so the cancer cells – for them to grow in the blood supply and spread to other parts of the body – constantly require certain signals to be on."
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Nicola S. Blandon
(404) 778 - 5378
(Information provided by: Ivanhoe)
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company
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