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Cutting-edge cancer trial announced

Queen’s University announced today that the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) has developed and will lead an international clinical trial of a new class of cancer drug aimed at curing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients who have had surgery and chemotherapy for disease confined to the lung. The academic-led trial will impact lung cancer patients following standard treatment.  Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in North America and is the leading cancer killer in both men and women.

NCIC CTG director Janet Dancey speaks about the international clinical trial of a new class of cancer drug aimed at curing non-small cell lung cancer in patients who have had surgery and chemotherapy for disease confined to the lung.

NSCLC accounts for 80-85 per cent of all lung cancer cases.

The new drug, MEDI4736 (AstraZeneca), is one of a new class of pharmaceuticals that helps the body’s immune system recognize and attack cancer. Drugs in this class have already been approved for use in patients with malignant melanoma.

“This trial will test a new drug from an emerging class of agents that doesn’t directly kill cancer cells but instead improves our own immune system’s ability  to fight and kill the cancer cells,”  says trial leader Glen Goss, an oncologist and clinician investigator at The Ottawa Hospital. “This is a new way of fighting cancer and therefore we are moving these drugs into the earliest stage of lung cancer treatment to meet a major unmet need.”

The trial is being conducted internationally, with collaboration from the Intergroupe Francophone de Cancerologie Thoracique (France), the National Cancer Institute, Naples (Italy),   the Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group &  National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre (Australia), the Spanish Lung Cancer Group, the Dutch Society for Pulmonology and Tuberculosis (NVALT), the Central and East European Oncology Group, the Korean Cancer Study Group and the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

“This is one of the most significant research funding announcements in the history of Queen’s,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “It is very exciting, not only to know that this potentially life-saving research is happening right here in our midst, but also because it is allowing us to collaborate and build important relationships with researchers all over the world.”

“This trial is being completed internationally and includes academic physicians around the world,” says NCIC CTG director Janet Dancey. “This is the first trial in the world to test this new drug in the setting of early lung cancer treatment. We are always very grateful for ongoing support from the Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute - without them, we would not be able to lead such critical cancer trials."

The trial will be open to 1,100 patients in Canada and around the world. Patients wishing to join the trial should speak to their oncologists about their treatment options. Approximately 25 institutions from across Canada will participate. Information about participation will also be available on clinicaltrials.gov and cancerview.ca