Results from a recent phase II trial of a new drug called TLK286 (Telcyta™) shows promise in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death within the United States and Europe. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a type of cancer that arises from the tissues within the lungs. NSCLC can spread to distant sites within the body and treatment is often based on how the disease has advanced. Chemotherapy is often prescribed in the treatment of NSCLC and is designed to reduce or limit the growth of cancer cells.

TLK286 is a new drug that is still being evaluated in clinical trials. It is referred to as a prodrug, which is a drug that is converted into an active form through metabolic processes. In this case, TLK286 is converted into an active alkylating chemotherapy by an enzyme that is expressed by many human cancers, particularly NSCLC.

In this trial, 12 patients with advanced stages of NSCLC who had previously been treated with platinum-based chemotherapy (cisplatin, carboplatin or oxaliplatin) were treated weekly with intravenous TLK286. This treatment was administered until the tumor progressed or until the treatment became too toxic for the patient to continue. Following treatment with TLK286, overall responses occurred in 58% of patients, with 25% of patients achieving a partial disappearance of cancer and 33% achieving disease stabilization. Side effects were infrequent in the study, although final data regarding patient survival and outcomes are still pending. Further phase I/II trials using TLK286 are ongoing in the United States. These trials include the use of TLK286 with Taxotere® (docetaxel) in patients with NSCLC who had previously been treated with platinum chemotherapy. Additionally, a larger phase III trial is currently accruing patients with NSCLC to directly compare TLK286 to Iressa® (gefitinib) in the treatment of this disease.

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In conclusion, TLK286 appears effective in the treatment of recurrent NSCLC, offering patients with this disease a potential alternative treatment option. Patients diagnosed with recurrent lung cancer may wish to speak to their physicians regarding their treatment options and the risks and benefits of the participation in a clinical trial further evaluating TLK286 or other promising therapeutic options. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and www.cancerconsultants.com. Personalized clinical trial searches are also performed on behalf of patients at cancerconsultants.com.

Reference: Papadimitrakopoulou V, Figlin R, Garland L, et al. Phase 2 study of TLK286 (GST P1-1 activated glutathione analog) administered weekly in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who failed prior platinum-based regimens. Proceedings from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2003;22:Abstract 2636.

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