June 05, 2012
New drugs being discussed at the Annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
BY Jennifer Litton, M.D.
The Annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting will be discussing several new drugs in development. We have been investigating targeted therapies for many years, several with significant promise. These therapies work on a specific pathway that either speeds up cell division or lengthens the tumor cell survival.
Although we have had significant improvements in outcomes for our patients with these drugs, there are just too many of these pathways going on in the same tumor cell at the same time.
It is important to note that even in this era of personalized medicine, we are not likely to find that one singular drug that will eradicate the disease. Instead, we will be looking at trying to simultaneously shut down the tumor from all directions. Chemotherapy, targeted therapies and what I hope will be one of the major game changers in this disease is the harnessing of the immune system.
We are hearing about new therapies such as Trastuzumab DM-1. This is an exciting therapy engineered to combine the immune system as the delivery of a lethal drug directly into the tumor cells, with minimal toxicity and improved results for patients. Also other stories include using a compound pd-1 which will help the T cells find the tumor and kill the tumor.
As these tumor cells become more and more genetically abnormal, using the immune system may be even more important.