Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD, a professor of medical oncology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, discusses the utility of the vaccine tecemotide as treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Approximately 20% of patients with stage III disease who are not amenable to surgical resection are cured from treatment with chemotherapy concurrent with radiation, Ramalingam notes. Ongoing research continues to explore novel means of improving this amount.
Tecemotide is a MUC1 vaccine. In a phase III trial, known as the START trial, tecemotide was given to patients stage III NSCLC following chemoradiation therapy. Ramalingam says the results showed that the patients who received tecemotide after concurrent chemoradiation had an improvement in median survival of almost 10 months. No improvement was seen in the patients who received sequential chemoradiation prior to treatment with tecemotide.
Based on these results, a prospective trial is planned. In the phase III START2 trial, patients will receive concurrent chemoradiation before being randomized to tecemotide or placebo. Ramalingam says the goal of this trial is to see if the addition of tecemotide improves survival and cure rate for this patient population.
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