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Lung Cancer Drug effective in extending lives

An experimental drug discovered by researchers in New Zealand and developed by the UK biotechnology company, Antisoma, is found to be effective // in extending lives of lung cancer patients by one-third.

Doctors who welcome this breakthrough state that it is the first step in the fight against the disease. Lung cancer is one of the most deadly cancers and the death rate increases every year. The rate of survival over 5 years is only 5%. The efforts to bring down the death rate have failed in the past.

A study was conducted on 70 patients affected by non-small cell lung cancer. It was found that when they were treated with the drug, not yet named and known as AS1404, they lived for 14 months on an average whereas the patients treated with chemotherapy alone lived for 8.8 months.

Efforts to find an effective treatment have failed and unlike other cancers, such as breast cancer, the death rate has not changed for more than a decade. A trial of the as yet unnamed drug, known as AS1404, in 70 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the commonest kind, found they lived for 14 months on average compared with 8.8 months for those given chemotherapy alone.

According to Antisoma, this 5.2 month difference is one of the biggest ever seen in a controlled trial conducted at random in which a new agent is given along with chemotherapy to treat lung cancer. In the trial, a reduction of 27% in the risk of death was observed among those treated with AS1404 when compared to those getting only chemotherapy.

Though the difference may seem insignificant, there is a sign of real benefits from the drug. The drug belongs to a new class of compounds called vascular disrupting agents. These agents damage the blood vessels supplying the solid tumors.

The victory of phase II trial has paved way for phase III study. The result of this study will decide the licensing of the drug as safe and effective. The efficacy of AS140
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