According to the results of a phase II clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, treatment with Lucenix™ (belagenpumatucel-L)-an experimental anticancer vaccine-may improve the survival of patients with advanced non–small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for approximately 75–80% of all lung cancers.

Advanced NSCLC refers to cancer that has spread from the lung to other sites in the body. In order to improve survival and quality of life in patients with advanced NSCLC, researchers continue to explore new therapeutic approaches.

Lucenix is an experimental anticancer vaccine that stimulates the patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells. In order to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Lucenix, researchers conducted a phase II clinical trial among 75 patients with NSCLC. The study enrolled patients with Stage II to Stage IV cancer who had either completed or refused conventional treatment.

Study participants were assigned to receive one of three different doses of the vaccine. The vaccine was administered every month or every other month, for a maximum of 16 injections.

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  • There were no significant adverse effects of treatment.
  • Among patients with advanced NSCLC (Stage IIIB or IV), 15% of patients experienced a partial disappearance of detectable cancer.
  • 59% of patients had no evidence of cancer progression at four months after treatment.
  • Survival was better among patients who received a higher dose of the vaccine. One-year survival was 68% among patients who received either of the two higher doses and 39% among patients who received the lowest dose.

The researchers conclude that Lucenix was well tolerated and warrants further exploration in phase III clinical trials.

Patients with NSCLC may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating this or other promising therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Nemunaitis J, Dillman RO, Wchwarzenberger PO et al. Phase II Study of Belagenpumatucel-L, a Transforming Growth Factor Beta-2 Antisense Gene-modified Allogeneic Tumor Cell Vaccine in Non-small Cell Lung Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2006;24:4721-4730.

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