Affiliations: ASCO Posting Date - May 20, 1996
Long-Term Survival Following Immunization with BEC2 Plus BCG after Initial Therapy for Small Cell Lung Cancer
Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY) presented new data on a new immunization therapy for the treatment of small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
Approximately 40,000 people are diagnosed in the U.S. each year with small cell lung cancer. Although chemotherapy combinations with or without radiation therapy have substantially prolonged patient survival, almost all patients still die of the disease. The median survival for patients with SCLC is seven to 16 months.
Over the past 20 years, no chemotherapeutic intervention has produced substantial improvement in survival. Researchers suggest that this is due to the persistence of microscopic amounts of cancer in the patient despite chemotherapy. One strategy is to immunize patients against the cancer at a point when the smallest volume of cancer remains, presumably after chemotherapy treatment.
Stefan Grant, M.D., assistant professor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and colleagues evaluated the ability to immunize patients against a molecule (GD3) found on the surface of SCLC cells. Even though GD3 represents a potential target for immunization, difficulties exist in using the GD3 molecule to immunize humans. Therefore the researchers, led by Paul B. Chapman, M.D., assistant professor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, developed BEC2, a molecule whose structure mimics GD3, so that antibodies produced against it should also recognize GD3. In the trial, patients were given five injections intradermally over a 10-week period. The injections consisted of preparations of BEC2 to which BCG, a bacteria similar to tuberculosis that stimulates the immune system, was added to enhance the immune-stimulating effect of BEC2.
Of eight patients entered into the trial, six had completed the course of the immunizations at the time of analysis and were evaulated for response. all the patients developed antibodies against BEC2. One patient developed antibodies against GD3. Survival outcomes were compared with a reference group of 34 patients who had undergone chemotherapy and had major tumor responses. Using statistical analysis to predict duration of survival, a amedian survival for patients receiving BEC2 is predicted to exceed 36 months. Median survival for the reference group was 16.2 months.
"Patients are still being recruited for this trial, but this is very interesting preliminary data," said Ellin Berman, M.D., associate professor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
In addition, you may wish to consult OncoLink's Lung Cancer Listings
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