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Researchers from Canada and England recently reported that a new vaccine known as L-BIP25 improved survival in patients diagnosed with stage IIIB or stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. The results of their study were presented at the 2004 meeting of the European Society of Medical Oncology.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and Europe. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, is a malignancy that arises from the tissues of the lung. Under most circumstances, NSCLC is not curable. Current treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in an attempt to destroy cancer cells or prevent further tumor growth. New research is aimed at developing a vaccine, which would stimulate the body to mount a systemic response against the patient’s lung cancer.

In this recent trial, researchers evaluated a new vaccine known as L-BIP25 that targets the protein MUC-1 that is overexpressed in NSCLC. The study included 171 patients with stage IIIB or IV NSCLC who had stable or responding disease and were randomized to receive either the L-BIP25 vaccine or best supportive care. Researchers reported that 21% of the patients had an immunological response to the vaccine; however, this response did not predict survival. The average survival for all patients who received the vaccine was 17.4 months, compared to 13 months for patients who did not receive the vaccine. For the patients with stage IIIB NSCLC, the group who did not receive the vaccine survived 13.3 months. Survival time for the stage IIIB patients who received the vaccine still had not reached completion when the study was concluded.

Overall, the vaccine was well tolerated, with skin rashes and flu-like symptoms being the main side effects. In addition, the study found that the patients who had received the vaccine reported an increase in their quality of life.

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Researchers concluded that the L-BIP25 vaccine shows promise in the future of lung cancer treatment, particularly in patients with stage IIIB NSCLC. However, larger studies will need to be completed to confirm these findings.

Reference: Butts CA, Marshall E, Murray NR, et al. A multicenter phase IIB randomized study of liposomal MUC1 vaccine for immunotherapy of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); L-BLP25 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Study Group. Presented at the 2004 Congress of the European Society of Medical Oncology. Annals of Oncology. 2004;15, supplement 3:iii2, abstract number 3IN.

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