Researchers report that the drug also stopped lung cancer tumors from growing and becoming resistant to treatment.
One in five people with lung cancer have small cell lung cancer and only three per cent of these people are expected to survive for five years. With this form of lung cancer, tumors spread quickly so it is rarely possible to remove the tumors surgically. Because of this, small cell lung cancer is treated with chemotherapy, with or without additional radiotherapy.
Initially, the treatment often appears to work, reducing the size of the tumors. However, the tumors usually grow back rapidly and then become resistant to further treatment.
The researchers have identified a drug that, in some mice, was able to completely shrink tumors away. In the mouse models, it was also able to stop tumors from growing and it helped other forms of chemotherapy to work more effectively. If the drug proves successful in humans, the researchers hope that it could help patients with this kind of lung cancer to live longer.
The Section of Molecular Oncology and Lung Cancer Research at Imperial College London which conducted the study suggests that it may be possible to develop the drug PD173074 into a new targeted therapy for small cell lung cancer.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancer killer in the world according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance. Around one in five of people diagnosed with lung cancer will have small cell lung cancer. Although it responds to chemotherapy initially, the tumors soon become resistant to treatment and sadly nearly all people with the disease do not survive.