Lung Cancer ‘Leading the Charge in Precision Medicine’


As part of its Speaking Out video series, CURE® spoke with Upal Basu Roy of LUNGevity about recently approved treatments for lung cancer and what is on the horizon.

Following what was a “very interesting year” for lung cancer in 2023, patients and providers are on the cusp of some exciting developments in 2024, one expert told CURE®.

As part of the “Speaking Out” video series, Roy, executive director of research for the LUNGevity Foundation, discussed advancements in lung cancer treatments which resulted in treatment approvals from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and previewed what may be in store in 2024.

Notably, immunotherapy made significant strides by gaining FDA approval for early-stage NSCLC. Keytruda (pembrolizumab) was approved as an adjuvant therapy, administered post-surgery, with the aim of preventing cancer recurrence. Furthermore, in the perioperative setting, Keytruda showcased potential as a neoadjuvant therapy, demonstrating its ability to prime the immune system before surgery and eliminate residual cancer cells thereafter.

Metastatic NSCLC saw the advancement of novel treatments targeting specific biomarkers. Augtyro (repotrectonib), designated for tumors bearing the ROS1 biomarker, made waves, particularly for its ability to penetrate the brain. Additionally, Braftovi (encorafenib) with Mektovi (binimetinib) brought a new dimension to the treatment paradigm, offering efficacy in tumors harboring the BRAF mutation.

Looking ahead, Roy said that he thinks “2024 will be a pivotal year for lung cancer research, and the FDA certainly going to be very busy.”

Among these, a combination therapy involving Rybrervant (amivantamab) and Leclaza (lazertinib) holds particular intrigue for its potential to surpass current standards in EGFR-mutated lung cancers.

“Preliminary data seems to suggest that the combination is more effective than [Tagrisso (osimertinib)],” said Roy, “which is very, very exciting, because [Tagrisso] itself is a very good drug. Now, you have a combination that seems to be a little bit more potent than [Tagrisso] which is I think, very exciting, because that tells us that there is another treatment option for patients whose tumors have EGFR mutations.”

Additionally, the FDA has granted priority review for the biologics license application for patritumab deruxtecan for locally advanced or metastatic EGFR-mutated non-small cell NSCLC previously treated with two or more systemic therapies.

“It's been shown that patients whose tumors have EGFR mutations and who've been treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) which have stopped working and then they've gone on to chemotherapy, which is really that next treatment option, this drug, patritumab deruxtecan, works really, really well in this population of patients after they have after the TKIs have stopped working [and] after chemotherapy has stopped working.

“And again, [it’s] very exciting because from a patient advocacy perspective, it really addresses that [question of] what's next after current treatments stopped working. I think that's important to keep in mind that lung cancer is sort of leading the charge in precision medicine. So, we have great treatment options for patients now. But the reality also is a lot of these treatment options will stop working and this new drug patritumab deruxtecan really sort of addresses that what's next.”

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