Updated on 14 April 2016
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) has developed Afatinib, a second generation TKI
Lung cancer occurs in two types, small cell lung cancer and the more prevalent non-small scale lung cancer. According to oncology specialists' analysis, 85 percent of the lung cancer patients are diagnosed with non-small scale lung cancer. Profesor Li Zhang, Professor of Medical Oncology, Sun Yat Sen University Cancer Centre, Guangzhou, China, highlights that more than 50 percent of the world's lung cancer incidences occur in Asia of which south east Asia is the most burdened region. Taiwan, South Korea, China, Singapore and Japan has the highest number of non-small scale cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cases in the whole region as almost 20 percent of the cancer deaths are registered from these countries. Moreover, there is an increasing risk in southeast Asia as the predicted growth rate of lung cancer incidence is 22 percent by 2020.
Cracking down on EGFR mutation
In 2011, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) issued a provisional clinical opinion on using epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) testing for treating patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The objective was to help clinicians decide the line of treatment. Cancer.net remarks that some research studies have shown that mutations to the EGFR may predict whether certain types of drugs, called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), can help treat lung cancer. TKIs are a type of targeted therapy, a treatment that targets specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that help cancer cells grow and survive and some TKIs block EGFR from working, which can help stop or slow tumor growth.
Profesor Li Zhang highlights that around 40 percent of lung cancer patients in Asia are with EGFR mutations as compared to 10-15 percent in Caucasian population and international guidelines recommends EGFR mutation testing at diagnosis level of advanced stage of NSCLC.
Boehringer Ingelheim's Lux Lung Trials
Target Therapy Vs Chemotherapy
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) has developed Afatinib, a second generation TKI, is a targeted therapy that has shown survival benefit in NSCLC patients with EGFR mutation. The company conducted two randomized clinical study, Lux Lung 3 and Lux Lung 6, to compare targeted therapy with chemotherapy. Lux Lung 3 was designed to study global patient population and Lux lung 6 for Asian patient population in which patients with adenocarcinoma of the lungs with EGFR mutation were given afatinib or chemotherapy. According to the company, the primary endpoint was progression free survival and the study demonstrated that for EGFR mutation afatinib is better than chemotherapy.
The study result indicated significant benefits for patients with EGFR mutation with delay in tumor growth and tumour shrinkage.