Don’t give up on new lung cancer drugs, expert advises (WEBINAR)

June 29, 2013 | by


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, accounting for 14 percent of all new cancer cases in the U.S. Researchers are working hard to brighten that outlook, making vital steps toward new lung cancer therapies and drugs.

Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., associate professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope, recently participated in an educational webinar hosted by Infinata's BioPharm Insights. Reckamp, along with Dr. Marcus Neubauer, Medical Director, Oncology Services, McKesson Specialty Health, offered an overview of the research recently presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

Scientists have not made giant leaps against lung cancer, she acknowledged, but they are making important, incremental steps, with multiple drugs currently in development.

Reckamp offered perspective on one class of drug in particular: HSP90 inhibitors. The drugs have not done as well as researchers originally anticipated, even though they can simultaneously destroy multiple tumor-causing proteins while targeting tumor cells over normal cells.

The drugs haven’t elicited a significant response during clinical trials, Reckamp said, but that doesn’t mean the drugs themselves are failures. Rather, she said, researchers don’t yet understand how best to use them.

"These are chaperone proteins that potentially have interactions with multiple types of protein that are important to lung cancer," Reckamp said. "Where we’ve seen this best activity is in ALK-positive patients, and there’s true activity in these patients that have benefited from HSP90. But when we combine it with chemotherapy and use it in other types of patients, I don’t think we best know how to use it."

The treatment of lung cancer has changed dramatically in the past few years, and staying up-to-date on the latest medical advancements and drug developments is not an easy task. Reckamp advises patients not to take everything on themselves, but to lean on their doctors and their medical team.

"A patient should be able to have clear communication with their physician," Reckcamp said. "They should be able to ask questions about their disease, about the biology of their disease and what potential treatments are available for them. At the end of the day, the patient has to feel comfortable with their physician and have open communication so questions are being answered."

Reckcamp elaborates on the overview of this year’s research from ASCO in the video above.