Lung cancer accounts for 25% of all cancer deaths and is the leading cause of cancer mortality among both men and women. It is often diagnosed at a late stage, with roughly 70% of patients diagnosed when the disease is already at stage 3 or 4, according to researchers from the University of California San Francisco.
Prevention and anti-smoking efforts can only do so much to curb these staggering statistics, given Yale Medicine’s finding that approximately 20% of people who die from lung cancer in the United States every year have never smoked or used any other form of tobacco.
Not only is lung cancer deadly, it is complex. The challenges with lung cancer prevention and interception, which aims to identify people susceptible to developing the form of cancer, are much more nuanced due to the nature of the disease. Lung cancer is associated with significant heterogeneity, with many driver mechanisms and gene mutations that make it difficult to treat via the current standards of care, which include surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapeutics and radiation.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for about 80-85% of all lung cancer diagnoses, and the most common driver mutations for NSCLC are epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) genetic alterations, explains the American Cancer Society. These genetic alterations (or mutations) are responsible for the staggering rates at which cancer cells grow and divide.
Advances in treatment interventions that target EGFR have brought new challenges: tumors often become resistant to these therapies, and current EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are not FDA-approved for treating all types of EGFR genetic alterations. Further, even with clinical improvements resulting from TKIs, acquired resistance invariably develops, notes the Lung Cancer Research Foundation.
While the recent advances in treatment are an important step forward, significant unmet needs continue to exist for patients with lung cancer—of all types and at any stage. As a result, treatments that target more than one pathway, or bispecific therapies, continue to be studied for the treatment of lung cancer.
Janssen scientists are focused on addressing some of the greatest challenges in lung cancer, such as genetic mutations and resistance mechanisms. The team is developing immuno-oncology approaches that leverage the immune system to fight disease, advancing research to identify specific drivers of lung cancer and evaluating targeted therapies tailored to lung cancer subtypes.
These approaches are leading to encouraging clinical results. During the 2020 World Conference on Lung Cancer, Janssen presented promising data for an investigational treatment in patients with lung cancer who have a specific EGFR mutation. As researchers learn more about how patients’ genetics may impact disease progression and response to treatments, additional studies are underway to evaluate both monotherapy and combination regimens to address the needs of patients living with advanced EGFR-mutated NSCLC.
Lung cancer is a complex, deadly disease that requires innovative approaches to treatment. As a company that has been at the forefront in the discovery and development of new cancer therapies for more than a decade, Janssen is committed to advancing novel approaches to transform the trajectory of lung cancer. To learn more about Janssen, visit https://www.janssen.com/oncology.