Current Status of Immunotherapy in NSCLC

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There are several randomized phase II/III clinical trials exploring immune checkpoint inhibitors as treatments for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), explains Heather A. Wakelee, MD. These drugs are being explored in the first- and second-line setting in combination with chemotherapy and as single-agents in comparison to chemotherapy. Moreover, combinations with targeted therapies are also being explored, notes Wakelee.

At this point, the treatment of NSCLC is on the verge of a paradigm shift, suggests Wakelee. However, a great deal of research still needs to be completed in order to discover optimal markers and sequences for these agents.

The success of immunotherapy in lung cancer has been sobering, notes Mark A. Socinski, MD. However, the immune checkpoint inhibitors hold the potential to reverse this trend. At this point, phase III trial results are still needed to determine where these agents fit in comparison to standard therapies and how to best manage side effects.

Early clinical trials have proven that the immune checkpoint inhibitors are a reasonable option for patients with NSCLC, believes Mark G. Kris, MD. Whether they will replace a standard therapy or work in combinations remains to be determined. Moreover, these agents have a specific impact on the immune system, Kris notes, making the discovery of an ideal marker integral to future treatment strategies.

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