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Early Study Finds Some Promise for Lung Cancer Vaccine
Date:4/4/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- A new therapeutic vaccine appears to lengthen the lives of patients with a certain type of lung cancer, according to results of a small phase 2 trial.

The drug, belagenpumatucel-L (Lucanix), extended the lives of patients with nonprogressive non-small cell lung cancer and increased the five-year survival rate among some patients with moderately advanced cancer to 50 percent, researchers found.

For the study, 75 patients with stage 2, 3A, 3B or 4 cancer were randomly assigned to various doses of the vaccine, which was derived from four lung cancer cell lines. Staging refers to the severity of cancer. A stage 3 cancer has spread nearby, while a stage 4 cancer has spread to another organ.

Overall, the patients survived an average of 14.5 months and the five-year survival rate was 20 percent, lead researcher Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova, an associate clinical professor at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla, and colleagues noted.

Patients with stage 3B and stage 4 disease who were given the two highest doses of the vaccine survived an average of 15.9 months. In these patients, average one-year survival rates were 61 percent, two-year survival rates averaged 41 percent and five-year survival rates were 18 percent.

But after chemotherapy, vaccinated patients with stage 3B or stage 4 nonprogressive cancer had an average survival of 44.4 months and five-year survival was 50 percent, which is "unheard of for patients with non-small cell lung cancer," Bazhenova said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

Patients whose disease progressed after chemotherapy survived an average of 14 months and had a 9 percent five-year survival rate, the researchers reported.

"This is a novel immunotherapy that appears to show unusually long survival in some patients," Bazhenova
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