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New drug boosts disease-free survival in NSCLC

May represent a treatment shift to earlier use of targeted therapy against EGFR cancer

Photo credit – AstraZeneca

CANCER DIGEST – Feb. 11, 2023 – Non-small cell lung cancer patients given a new targeted therapy experienced longer disease-free survival and lower risk of recurrence compared to patients not given the drug, according to preliminary data from an ongoing clinical trial.


The drug, osimertinib (Tagrisso®), targets cancers with certain genetic mutations in a gene called epidermal growth factor receptor or EGFR. There are at least eight different mutations in the EGFR gene associated with lung cancer. The mutation causes cells to continuously divide and grow. Osimertinib binds to the EGFR protein and blocks it from receiving signals causing the cell to divide.


In the ongoing phase III ADAURA clinical trial, 682 patients enrolled with early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with continuing cancer following surgery and chemotherapy were randomly assigned to receive 80 milligrams of osimertinib once daily, or placebo. These results were published in the Jan. 31, 2023 Journal of Clinical Oncology.


Over four years, the data shows 73 percent of the osimertinib patients surviving disease free compared to 38 percent of the placebo group. In addition, results showed fewer recurrences among the osimertinib group compared to the control group.


“These data demonstrate a new paradigm demonstrating the importance of using targeted therapy against epidermal growth-factor-driven tumors as early as possible in the course of a patient’s disease,” said Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD in a press release. He is lead author and principal investigator of the trial at Yale Cancer Center. “The results have led to a new standard of care in this disease setting.”


The study is funded by AstraZeneca, which makes Tagrisso®. While the study is continuing to follow the participants, it is no longer recruiting participants.


Sources: Yale School of Medicine press release by Michael Masciadrelli, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology

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