Sugemalimab plus chemo boosts lung cancer survival, trial reveals

by Stephen Riddle

Lung cancer drug sugemalimab has delivered positive results following a phase 3 trial.

EQRx’s GEMSTONE-302 study evaluated the efficacy and safety of the investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody, sugemalimab, in combination with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with stage four non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), versus using chemotherapy alone.

PD-1 inhibitors work against the protein, Programmed Death-Ligand 1 (PD-L1), which is found on the surface of many cells throughout the body. Some cancer cells contain large amounts of PD-L1, which helps them to evade the body’s immune system.

Dr Vince Miller, physician-in-chief at EQRx, said: “We are highly encouraged to see that sugemalimab in combination with chemotherapy demonstrates significant clinical benefit, including improvement in both progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS), when compared to placebo plus chemotherapy across a broad spectrum of patients with stage four non-small cell lung cancer in this phase 3 study.

“Price remains a barrier to accessing innovative therapies for many people with lung cancer around the world, despite the availability of multiple anti-PD-(L)1 therapies.”

EQRx’s ethos is to engage with global regulatory authorities to deliver a lower-cost treatment option to patients upon approval. Detailed results of the GEMSTONE-302 study will be presented at a future medical congress. 

The drive to tackle the disease is high, as every 15 seconds, an individual is diagnosed with lung cancer globally, and every 18 seconds, a person dies of the disease. It is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. In 2020, an estimated 2.2 million people were diagnosed with lung cancer.

NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 84% of all lung cancer diagnoses. 

According to the British Lung Foundation, 85,000 people living in the UK have received a lung cancer diagnosis. This includes people living with the condition, those in remission and those who have been cured.

Lung cancer prevalence rates have risen by 23% since 2004, notes the BLF: “The earlier part of this trend may have been affected by changes in the way data were collated and incentivised. But prevalence still increased by 10% between 2008 and 2012. Stable incidence and rising prevalence point to improving lung cancer survival rates.”

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