Lung cancer: patient profiling for tailored treatment

Mathilde Regnault
10/18/2018
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A study by Dr. Emanuela Romano at Institut Curie aims to identify the patients most likely to benefit from immunotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer. She will present these promising results to the medical community on 20 October in Munich.
Manuela Romano

Non-small cell lung cancer is by far the most frequent form of lung cancer (85% to 90%). Recently, patients with advanced and metastatic tumors have been able to access new treatments: immunotherapy designed to trigger their own defenses against the illness. Yet not all patients respond to this medication. To the contrary, some in fact experience side effects.

With the help of clinicians, research doctors and biologists working at its Immunotherapy Center, Institut Curie carried out a study to distinguish between patients that would and wouldn’t benefit from this immunotherapy. In this retrospective study, doctors and researchers assessed the medical files of 34 patients living with this type of lung cancer who had undergone immunotherapy, re-examining the blood samples that were taken prior to the start of treatment. They cross-referenced the characteristics of those who responded well to the treatment and those whose health did not show signs of lasting improvement. Several key differences emerged. T cells (a type of immune cell) in particular differed between various patients. If these findings are confirmed, a simple blood test may allow us to predict which patients would benefit from immunotherapy ahead of treatment, and which would be better without. Intensive treatment would therefore only be prescribed in cases where it would appear advantageous. Emanuela Romano, the Immunotherapy Center’s Medical Director, will share this new potential treatment strategy on 20 October at the ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology) congress in Munich. The next steps will involve widening the scope of the study to include as many patients as possible and refining the combination of predictive biomarkers (T cells in particular) that indicate responsiveness to the immunotherapy.

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