According to results published in a press release from Biomira Inc, the vaccine Stimuvax® (formerly known as BLP25 Liposomal Vaccine) appears to significantly improve survival in patients with stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., lung cancer kills more people every year than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer combined.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for approximately 75%-80% of all lung cancer. “Non-small cell” refers to the type of cell within the lung where the cancer originated.

In stage IIIB NSCLC, cancer has already spread to more than one location in the chest, but cannot be detected outside the chest cavity with currently available diagnostic tests. Unfortunately, most of these patients have undetectable spread of cancer outside the chest. This undetectable cancer is the cause of relapse or recurrence of cancer in the majority of patients.

Since long-term survival for patients diagnosed with stage IIIB NSCLC remains poor, research continues into ways to improve survival for these patients.

Standard treatment for stage IIIB NSCLC includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or targeted therapy.

Researchers recently conducted a phase IIb clinical trial to evaluate a vaccine to help stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells that may remain in the body following initial therapy. Stimuvax is a vaccine that stimulates the immune system to detect an antigen (protein), referred to as MUC1, that is found on cancer cells. The immune system then attacks the cancer cells displaying MUC1.

This trial included 171 patients with stages IIIB or IV NSCLC whose cancer had regressed or stabilized following initial chemotherapy. Approximately half of the patients received Stimuvax plus best supportive care, and half received best supportive care alone. Best supportive care in this trial included radiation therapy and/or additional chemotherapy according to standard treatment procedures.

  • Median survival among patients with stage IIIB NSCLC treated with Stimuvax was nearly 31 months compared with only 13.3 months for those treated with best supportive care only.
  • A phase III clinical trial, which is the phase prior to FDA review, is planned later in 2006.

The researchers concluded that the addition of Stimuvax to best supportive care appears to significantly improve survival compared to best supportive care alone among patients with stage IIIB NSCLC who have received initial therapy. Further data is necessary to confirm these findings.

Reference: Biomira, Inc. Biomira Announces Final Phase 2b Survival Results of Stimuvax® (Formerly Known as BLP25 Liposome Vaccine) Trial in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer-Results Confirm Median Survival of 30.6 Months in Stage IIIB Patients on Vaccine Versus 13.3 Months in Control Patients. Available at: . Accessed April 2006.

Related News:

Vaccine May Improve Survival in Patients with Stage IIIB Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (11/7/05)

New Vaccine Shows Promise for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (11/29/04)

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