Alan Sandler, MD, division chief of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Oregon Health & Science University, explains that many lung cancer experts and thought leaders may have dismissed the possibility of using immunotherapies to treat lung cancer; however, these therapies are gradually becoming more of a reality.
There are currently trials investigating several immune targeted therapies for lung cancer. Sandler highlights a few, including those looking at BMS-936558, a novel agent that targets the programmed death-1 (PD-1) pathway, another using the agent talactoferrin, an oral immunotherapy, and multiple vaccines that are currently under investigation.
Many of these trials are still in early phases, Sandler notes, but they show that the hypothesis of using an immunotherapy for lung cancer is currently being tested using the current generation of treatments. To date, the data seems promising that these newer therapies are effective.
In general, Sandler notes that the recent success of immunotherapies in lung cancer has come as a surprise. Although, he adds that as techniques improve what is possible continues to evolve. As an example, he notes that in the 1980s the idea of using antibodies seemed far-fetched, but they are now the main stay of many therapies.