Pembrolizumab, or pembro, an immunotherapy drug that unmasks cancer cells and allows the body's own immune system to help destroy tumors, appears to be safe in treating lung cancers, according to a study by Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Western Regional Medical Center (Western) in Goodyear, Arizona.
Dr. Glen Weiss, M.D., M.B.A., is the first author of the study abstract: Phase Ib/II Study of Pembrolizumab plus Chemotherapy in Advanced Cancer: Results of lung cancer patients receiving (at least) 1 prior line of therapy. Dr. Weiss presented the initial results from this study during the 16th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC).
The "PembroPlus" clinical trial launched in January 2014 and combines more traditional chemotherapy drugs (gemcitabine, docetaxel, nab-paclitaxel, vinorelbine, irinotecan, and/or liposomal doxorubicin) with immunotherapy (pembrolizumab), activating the body's own immune system to improve upon results that may be achieved from chemotherapy alone. Findings were presented at the WCLC are based on the updated results of 12 lung cancer patients enrolled in the clinical trial with pembro and irinotecan or gemcitabine with or without vinorelbine or docetaxel.
"We found that the combination of pembrolizumab and chemotherapies evaluated thus far -- in patients with advanced small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) -- appears to be safe," said Dr. Glen Weiss, Director of Clinical Research and Medical Oncologist at CTCA® at Western, where he currently supervises more than 30 clinical trials involving hundreds of patients. "We are excited to share these initial trial results with our colleagues around the world."
Dr. Weiss' study of pembrolizumab was presented during a session on small cell lung cancer when the theme of the conference was Science Drives Lung Cancer Advances.
Dr. Weiss is a physician-scientist who not only provides patient care in the clinic but also is intricately involved in pioneering biomedical laboratory research and discoveries.
The clinical research and clinical trials program at CTCA at Western has grown exponentially under the leadership of Dr. Weiss. Since its inception in 2012, patient enrollment in treatment trials at CTCA at Western has increased by more than 800 percent. So far in 2015, the hospital exceeded the national average for adult patients participating on research studies by about 300 percent.
"We believe these studies and clinical trials that combine immunotherapy with chemotherapy are advancing efforts toward better clinical care and more positive outcomes for our patients at CTCA," said Dr. Vivek Khemka, Medical Oncologist, CTCA at Western and the WCLC study abstract's principal investigator and senior author.
More than 9,000 delegates from across the globe attended the WCLC, one of the largest international gatherings of clinicians and scientists in the field of lung cancer and thoracic malignancies. The program covered a wide range of disciplines, including more than 300 invited talks and 3,000 scientific abstracts presented in oral and poster sessions.
Delegates included those interested in all aspects of lung cancer, including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, pathologists, epidemiologists, basic research scientists, with special sessions for nurses, allied health professionals and advocacy members. The WCLC convention was sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).
Dr. Weiss, who recently was nominated for the second year in a row as AZ Business magazine's Researcher of the Year, also presented two other abstracts at WCLC related to new drug treatments:
"The abstracts we presented at WCLC are prime examples of how our growing body of research and studies at CTCA at Western are advancing medicine and hold the potential to provide patients with better cancer treatments," Dr. Weiss said.
Materials provided by Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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