New epigenetic therapy may provide hope for patients with recurrent metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, despite a morbid prognosis, according to data published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
A research team at Johns Hopkins University tested a combination epigenetic therapy of azacitidine and entinostat among patients with recurrent metastatic non-small cell lung cancer who had been heavily pretreated but showed no response.
Researchers found a median survival of 6.4 months with treatment, where the typical survival for this patient population is four months.
Four of the 19 patients who received subsequent anticancer therapies had a major objective response to immediate subsequent treatment with other agents. Seven patients remain alive, including two who began treatment approximately four years ago.
This drug combination has previously shown efficacy among patients with leukemia.
"We are starting to show traction for epigenetic therapy for one of the most difficult-to-treat tumors," said Stephen A. Baylin, M.D., professor and deputy director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University and leader of the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Epigenetics Dream Team. "This study appears to show the first durable successes in solid tumors with epigenetic therapy."
"This research would not have been possible, especially at this accelerated pace, without SU2C," said Baylin. "Our SU2C Dream Team has benefitted enormously from the initiative's vision and visibility. The funding helps leverage other support mechanisms, like our SPORE grant from the NCI, which could never separately fund a trial of this magnitude and scope. It has enabled incredibly fruitful collaborations and allowed us, most importantly, to make a real difference in peoples' lives."