New Lung Cancer Trial Opened in New Mexico

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Feb 12, 2016 11:00 AM EST

BALTIMORE - AUGUST 15: In this photo illustration, leading chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer patients are displayed at the Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins hospital August 15, 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland. Since its inception in 1973, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has been dedicated to better understanding human cancers and finding more effective treatments. (Photo : Illustration by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Here's good news for lung cancer patients in New Mexico, a clinical trial has just been opened in your area.

Ruidoso News reported that there are 1,000 people in New Mexico who are struggling with lung cancer. These patients will soon find a relief because the first of more than 10 new lung cancer clinical trials has already opened in their area.

The clinical trial is under the direction of Yanis Boumber, MD, PhD., a lung cancer expert and physician-scientist at the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.

According to Lung Cancer, clinical trials help doctors determine whether new treatments are safe and effective, or better than the existing ones. In most cases, the treatment provided in clinical trials has shown a promising improvement compared to the standard treatment.

This process is important because it helps doctors understand which treatment or combinations of treatments work best. In lung cancer, clinical trials help doctors discover targeted treatments. If the new treatment being tested proves to be effective, it may become a new standard of care.

Per Ruidoso News, the phase 3 clinical trial called "Neptune" opened last Jan. 28. This trial compares a combination of two immune drugs with standard chemotherapy. This is the first clinical trials to test immune drugs as a first line treatment for lung cancer.

The data from the first two phases revealed that the immunotherapy combination showed promising results. Almost half of lung cancer patients responded to the drug combination. Those who have side effects were able to manage it.

The Neptune clinical trial divides the people into two groups. One group receives the standard care: chemotherapy using a platinum drug and another drug. While the other group, received a new class of drugs called immunotherapy that harnesses one's immune system. This drug is more selective in killing cancer cells and leave normal cells alone. In the previous studies, this treatment is only applied when chemotherapy failed.

The good thing about immunotherapy is it does not kill the immune cells, unlike chemotherapy. Thus, the immune cells are free to find and kill the cancer cells.

AstraZeneca produces the two drugs used in the Neptune clinical trial, which are durvalumab and tremelimumab. They sponsor the trial.

"The advantage of a [clinical] trial is it gives you an opportunity to get additional therapy that you cannot get with the standard of care treatments," Boumber said. "And these drugs have been tested for the last five years. They're safe and very technologically advanced."

The study is still recruiting more patients. For those interested in the clinical trial, check the details here.

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