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Mesothelioma Patients Cheer Positive Trial of Lung Cancer Drug

In the world of cancer research, when a drug receives approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration it offers hope to those suffering from the cancer that it was developed to treat, as well as among those that suffering from cancers with similar characteristics. Non-small cell lung cancer is a type of cancer whose tumors share many similarities with those suffered by many pleural mesothelioma patients, so recent word that researchers are finding positive results from using Gilotrif (afatinib)on non-small cell cancer patients has been cause for hope among the mesothelioma community.

Gilotrif received approval from the FDA over one year ago in the summer of 2013. Since that time it has been used to treat those with late stage non-small cell lung cancer. whose tumors exhibit signs of a specific type of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutation. Clinical trials have revealed what researchers are calling “significantly extended overall survival of lung cancer patients with the most common EGFR mutation over chemotherapy.” EGF is a protein that is not only found among many non-small cell lung cancer patients, but also in over fifty percent of pleural mesothelioma patients.

Gilotrif is manufactured by drug giant Boehringer Ingelheim, and in a press release earlier this month the company announced that in phase III clinical trials on EGFT/non-small cell lung cancer patients, those who exhibited the most common EGFT marker “lived more than one year longer when treated with first-line afatinib, an irreversible ErbB Family Blocker, compared to standard chemotherapy. These data provide important evidence about the use of afatinib in patients whose tumors have the Del19 mutation and tell us that the standard treatments and approaches should no longer be assumed equivalent for every EGFR mutation.” The statement came from Lecia V. Sequist, M.D.,MPH, a medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The use of biomarkers provides physicians with the ability to use targeted therapies that are highly individual to their individual needs. Knowing that a patient has EGFR mutations present can lead to more effective treatments and selection of the most appropriate therapies. According to Berthold Greifenberg, M.D., vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Oncology at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., “We are proud to have these results published in The Lancet Oncology to provide further insights into the role of afatinib as first-line treatment for patients with specific mutation types. These findings reinforce the importance of identifying the specific mutation types to help improve outcomes for patients with EGFR mutation-positive lung cancer.”

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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