Researchers from Johns Hopkins’ Kimmel Cancer Center recently announced a new two-drug chemotherapy regimen produced promising results during a study of 45 patients who faced certain death from advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, results of the study gave doctors hope for new and better treatments for this particular type of cancer and perhaps other thoracic cancers like mesothelioma
Researchers used a combination of the drugs azacitidine and entinostat, previously used to treat leukemia patients. Average survival rate after one treatment was 6.4 months as compared to 4 months for those who received the standard treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.
Survival rate among study participants who received two treatments rose to eight months. However, there were several patients that showed dramatic results after two treatments. This includes seven participants who are still alive. For one, it has been four years since participation in the trial. Furthermore, study patients who went on to receive conventional chemotherapy after participation in the trial seemed to fair better as well.
This new approach, researchers explain, is known as epigenetic therapy. “Epigenetics explains molecular characteristics apart from DNA sequence that influence how genes are expressed,” explains the article. “While gene mutations are known to cause cancer, epigenetic changes that turn genes on or off also affect disease development.”