Atezolizumab Found to Reduce Tumor Growth in Lung Cancer Patients

Experimental drug shows promise in recent study.

Experimental drug shows promise in recent study.

A breakthrough therapy for lung cancer may soon offer a promising therapeutic option for patients.

Genentech announced the results of the BIRCH study this week, which showed the investigational cancer immunotherapy atezolizumab was found to reduce tumor growth in people with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease expressed Programmed Death Ligand-1 (PD-L1). The study showed a positive correlation between the amount of PD-L1 expressed in the patient and their response to the treatment. Side effects noted were consistent with previously observed adverse events for atezolizumab.

“We are encouraged by the number of people who responded to atezolizumab and maintained their response during the study, which is particularly meaningful for people who had received several prior treatments,” said Sandra Horning, MD, chief medical officer and head of Genentech Global Product Development. “We plan to present results at an upcoming medical meeting and will discuss these data, as well as results from our other lung cancer studies with health authorities to bring this medicine to patients as quickly as possible.”

In early 2015, the FDA granted atezolizumab a Breakthrough Therapy Designation for the treatment of people whose NSCLC expresses PD-L1 and whose cancer spread during or after standard treatments.

In the BIRCH study, 667 people with locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC were evaluated. Eligibility criteria included people whose tumors were determined to express PD-L1 with an immunohistochemistry test score of TC2/3 or IC2/3. The study administered a 1200-miligram intravenous dose of atezolizumab every three weeks to eligible patients. There are 11 ongoing or planned phase 3 studies of atezolizumab across certain kinds of lung, kidney, breast, and bladder cancers.