New Drug For Lung Cancer Retrains Immune System

Posted at 1:47 PM, Jun 16, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Lung cancer is the top cancer killer of both men and women in the United States, 158,000 Americans are expected to die from it, this year alone. Now, a new drug that retrains the immune system can stop a tumor in its tracks.

Former TV reporter Neil Vicino covered many emergencies in his days “on the job,” but now he’s fighting a personal battle.

“It kind of just snuck up on me,” Vicino told Ivanhoe.

After smoking for 40 years, cancer had invaded his lungs. Surgery was not an option.

But Neil was eligible for a clinical trial of the drug Opdivo. He's been getting infusions for almost two years.

Opdivo activates the immune system, causing it to attack the cancer cells. After several months of treatment, the cancer has shrunk, by 90 percent.

“It’s a real game changer to be able to have a treatment which works for years in some patients," Ben Creelan, MD, Assistant Faculty, Medical Oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida told Ivanhoe.

There are potential side effects including autoimmune disorders, thyroid problems and skin rashes. Neil suffered from a rare form of double pneumonia. Still for him, the benefits outweighed the risks.

"There now is hope for a lot of people that there wasn't before," Vicino said.

The FDA recently approved Opdivo so it's available to qualified patients. This new drug is approved for both metastatic lung cancer and melanoma. More: