Fox Chase Researcher Leads International Study Evaluating Treatment of Small Cell Lung Cancer Using Dinutuximab

Dr. Martin Edelman
“There have been very few developments in the treatment of small cell lung cancer in the last 30 years. Other than immunotherapy, very few developments have happened and those developments have been modest,” said Edelman.

PHILADELPHIA (May 29, 2020)—Martin J. Edelman, MD, FACP, a researcher at Fox Chase Cancer Center, presented results on behalf of an international team of researchers from a randomized phase 3 study conducted to determine if the drug dinutuximab (Unituxin) would be effective in treating small cell lung cancer.

Dinutuximab is an antibody against a protein expressed on the surface of small cell lung cancer cells called a ganglioside. “The drug is approved in pediatric neuroblastoma but has no approvals yet in adults,” said Edelman, chair of the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Fox Chase and principal investigator.

Edelman presented the findings of the study, “The Anti-Disialoganglioside (GD2) Antibody Dinutuximab (D) for Second-Line Treatment (2LT) of Patients (pts) With Relapsed/Refractory Small Cell Lung Cancer (RR SCLC): Results From Part II of the Open-Label, Randomized, Phase II/III Distinct Study,” as part of the virtual scientific program of the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

“There have been very few developments in the treatment of small cell lung cancer in the last 30 years. Other than immunotherapy, very few developments have happened and those developments have been modest,” said Edelman.

There are limited options for patients with small cell lung cancer that progresses after an initial therapy. Although the cancer does typically respond well to a first-line treatment, most patients relapse after one year.

The chemotherapy drugs topotecan (Hycamtin) and irinotecan (also known by the brand names Onivyde and Camptosar), are typically used in second-line treatment of small cell lung cancer. However, treatment response for these drugs is low and median survival is around four or five months, according to the study.

Edelman said the idea of his team’s research was to use a standard second-line drug for the treatment of small cell lung cancer either alone or in combination with dinutuximab. The team wanted to determine whether dinutuximab plus irinotecan prolongs overall survival compared with irinotecan or topotecan alone in patients with documented relapsed/refractory small cell lung cancer after first-line treatment with platinum-based therapy.

The study ultimately concluded that treatment with dinutuximab plus irinotecan was not superior to the established second-line treatment for relapsed/refractory small cell lung cancer.

“Unfortunately, as is the case with many things in small cell lung cancer, it did not work,” said Edelman. “But it’s important to note that Fox Chase has been the leading institution in doing these investigations of novel therapeutics and advanced thoracic cancers.”

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

For more information, call 888-369-2427