Alain C. Mita, MD, is fighting an uphill battle against small cell lung cancer. Despite the severity of the disease, the standard-of-care treatment remains the same today as it was nearly 30 years ago.
Small cell lung cancer, which includes oat cell carcinoma, is a more aggressive disease than other types of lung cancer and often is more advanced at the time of diagnosis. Smoking is the most common cause of the diagnosis and can be diagnosed even decades after an individual has quit. At advanced stages of the disease, it is incurable in the vast majority of patients, with a median survival less than 12 months.
Mita said that following a diagnosis of small cell lung cancer, most patients opt for immediate chemotherapy using the standard-of-care chemotherapy's etoposide and cisplatin -- two drugs developed more than three decades ago. This standard chemotherapy regimen responds well initially, many times putting patients into remission. But, within months, most patients relapse and their disease recurs.
Today, a new Cedars-Sinai Phase I-II clinical trial may improve treatment approaches and combat disease recurrence. But first, Mita needs to find patients to participate in the clinical trial.
"Our team of physician scientists is committed to advancing treatment options for patients diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and other types of lung disease," said Mita, co-director of the Experimental Therapeutics Program at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. "The eligibility criteria for this specific clinical trial can be a challenge, as patients must have no treatment history. Our team encourages patients and their treating physician to consider available clinical trials that include the combination of the standard of care and a novel agent."
The approach being tested in the clinical trial works by combining the standard-of-care chemotherapy (etoposide and cisplatin) with a NOTCH inhibitor (OMP-59R5), a targeted therapy aimed to directly attack cancerous stem cells.
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