According to an article recently published in the journal Lung Cancer, the immunoconjugate agent SGN-15, in addition to chemotherapy, may improve the outcomes of some patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer.

Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, comprising approximately 75–80% of all lung cancers in the United States. “Non–small cell” refers to the type of cell within the lung where the cancer originated. Metastatic NSCLC is cancer that has spread from the lung to distant sites in the body. Recurrent NSCLC refers to cancer that has recurred following prior therapies.

Since long-term survival for patients with metastatic or recurrent NSCLC remains unfavorable, researchers continue to evaluate novel treatments in order to improve outcomes for these patients.

SGN-15, referred to an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), is an investigative agent that is targeted against specific proteins called the Lewis Y antigen. The Lewis Y antigen (LeY) are proteins found on most NSCLC cells. SGN-15 is bound to the chemotherapy agent Adriamycin® (doxorubicin), which directly targets the chemotherapy at the cancer cells. In theory, this direct delivery of chemotherapy provides more potent anticancer effects because it reaches the cancer cells before it is metabolized by the body. Side effects are also reduced because the rest of the body is less exposed to chemotherapy.

Researchers from several institutions in the United States recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate SGN-15 plus the chemotherapy agent Taxotere ® (docetaxel) in the treatment of metastatic or recurrent NSCLC. This trial included 62 patients whose cancers expressed Le Y; one group of patients was treated with SGN-15 plus Taxotere and a second group received Taxotere only.

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  • At one year survival rates were 29% for those treated with SGN-15/Taxotere and 24% for those treated with Taxotere only.
  • At 18 months survival rates were 18% for those treated with SGN-15/Taxotere, compared with only 8% for those treated with Taxotere only.
  • Side effects were reportedly mild in both groups of patients.
  • Quality of life analyses actually demonstrated a greater improvement among patients treated with SGN-15.

The researchers concluded that survival at 18 months was superior for patients with metastatic or recurrent NSCLC who were treated with SGN-15/Taxotere compared to those treated with Taxotere alone. They authors state that further trials are necessary to evaluate different chemotherapy combinations with SGN-15 to determine its potential use in patients with this difficult-to-treat disease.

Patients with advanced NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating SGN-15 or other novel agents for treatment of their disease. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Ross H, Hart L, Swanson P, et al. A Randomized, Multicenter Study to Determine the Safety and Efficacy of the Immunoconjugate SGN-15 Plus Docetaxel for the Treatment of Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinoma. Lung Cancer. 2006; 54; 69-77.

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