Research Update: Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer Offers New Hope

December 9, 2015 · By Patrick McAlary
It is an exciting time in oncology research here at New England Cancer Specialists, particularly in the area of Immuno-Oncology. I wanted to bring your attention to the quickly evolving field of immunotherapy as a treatment for lung cancer.
We know that tumors can evade the immune system through various mechanisms. One such mechanism involves taking advantage of the immune system’s dependence on multiple checkpoints, or ‘immunological brakes’ that help keep the immune system from attacking normal cells. We now know that tumor cells can co-opt this checkpoint mechanism, resulting in ‘putting the brakes’ on the immune system when it should be mounting an attack. Defeating this evasive maneuver by tumor cells is the focus of a type of immunotherapy called checkpoint inhibition. It is intended to help restore the immune system’s ability to recognize cancer, take a foot off the brake, and mount an attack.
This is a quickly evolving field and new therapies targeting these checkpoints are fast becoming an important part of the treatment for many cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Only a few of these treatments have been approved for use so far, but many others are now being studied in clinical trials. New England Cancer Specialists is at the forefront of this sea change and is actively collaborating with industry sponsors and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to investigate the potential role of these checkpoint immunotherapies in NSCLC. Through these collaborations our providers are excited to now offer studies for our NSCLC patients in the post-operative, locally advanced, and metastatic settings.
Please see this link for more trial-specific information. Or for more information on these and other immunotherapy clinical trials open here at New England Cancer Specialists, please call Research Manager Patrick McAlary, MSN, CCRP at 207-396-7634.
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