Lung cancer patients in England to receive ‘breakthrough’ tumour-stopping drug

Around 600 patients to receive Sotorasib, which can stem growth of tumours, over next few weeks

Holly Bancroft
Friday 10 September 2021 09:07 BST
<p>A lung cancer cell dividing, captured by the Wellcome Trust </p>

A lung cancer cell dividing, captured by the Wellcome Trust

Lung cancer patients in England will become the first in Europe to receive a new drug that can stem the growth of tumours.

The medication, Sotorasib, will be fast-tracked to NHS patients after it was shown to stop lung cancer growing for seven months in trials.

The drug targets the most common cancer-causing genetic mutations in the human body, known as KRAS G12C.

Drugmaker Amgen, which has made the new medication, tested its drug in patients with the most common type of lung cancer, called non-small cell cancer. The KRAS gene, which has become known as the “Death Star” mutation because of its spherical appearance and impenetrable nature, occured in 13 per cent of these patients.

Sotorasib made the cancers shrink significantly in patients with the mutation, Amgen reported. The drug, taken as a tablet, binds with the KRAS G12C mutation and makes it inactive, stopping cell division and cancer growth.

Approximately 600 lung cancer patients will be given the drug initially in England over the next few weeks after an early access deal was struck with the manufacturer Amgen UK.

Trials by Amgen showed that, on average, tumors in the patients stopped growing for seven months. In three out of 126 patients, the cancer seems to have disappeared entirely, although side effects included diarrhea, nausea and fatigue.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “The UK is leading the world in rolling out new life-saving treatments so patients can access them as early as possible.

“This ground-breaking new drug, which stops lung tumours growing, will make a difference to people across England and boosts our efforts to get people the treatment they need.”

Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, added: “Sotorasib is one of the most exciting breakthroughs in lung cancer treatment in 20 years, targeting a cancer gene that was previously un-targetable and built on decades of laboratory research that’s unravelled cancer’s inner workings.

“This medicine expands our list of effective precision therapies in lung cancer that are helping to improve survival for patients with limited options. It’s great news that patients in England will now benefit from this novel treatment.

There are around 47,800 new lung cancer cases in the UK every year, or around 130 every day. Around three-quarter of these cases are diagnosed at a late stage in England.

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