SAN ANTONIO, Texas. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - More than 200,000 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and almost 160,000 people with the disease will die from it. Now, a drug that is showing incredible results in treating lung cancer has doctors more hopeful than ever.
“It truly is a transformative treatment,” Amita Patnaik, MD, Associate Director of Clinical Research at the START Center in San Antonio told Ivanhoe.
Those are not words Dr. Patnaik uses lightly. But a clinical trial for treating lung cancer with the drug Keytruda has shown remarkable results.
Abelardo Torres has gone from being wheelchair- bound and on oxygen full time, to an almost full recovery. Before the trial began, doctors were preparing his wife.
“Why don’t you take him to hospices,” Torres explained.
But a year and a half later, treated with Keytruda, the tumors on his lungs, and liver, are virtually gone.
Here’s how Keytruda works. Cancer suppresses the immune system. Keytruda blocks communication between cancer cells and certain proteins, allowing the immune system to kick in.
“This allows for our bodies to essentially mount natural anti-tumor immunity against cancer,” Dr. Patnaik explained.
Scans of Abelardo’s lungs show on the left, the tumor obscures the lung, on the right, after Keytruda, the lung is clear, the tumor, gone.
“He’s had about a 97 percent reduction in the extent of his tumor, so, the future for him looks very optimistic,” Dr. Patnaik said
Taking Abelardo from near death, to hopeful, and giving doctors a new tool to fight lung cancer.
“It truly is something that will change the way we practice and think about cancer,” Dr. Patnaik told Ivanhoe.
The FDA has assigned a priority review designation to Keytruda as a treatment for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. A final decision is expected in October.
Late last year the FDA approved the use of Keytruda for treating melanoma. Data suggests Keytruda could also be used for treating triple negative breast cancer, bladder, and kidney cancer.
Tests on these cancers are currently underway.