By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A Tupelo oncologist and his advanced lung cancer patients have been a part of evaluating a promising new medication.
In a Phase 2 trial, enobosarm was effective in helping his patients gain lean muscle mass and function.
“Seventy-eight percent of people in the study had increased ability to climb stairs,” said Dr. Chris Croot, who was the third author of the study published earlier this spring in the British medical journal, The Lancet. “This drug makes a huge improvement. It’s not just weight gain, but actual function.”
Especially with advanced lung cancer, patients are vulnerable to muscle-wasting – caused by the cancer itself, not the treatment, Croot said. The existing regimens for the muscle-wasting – including steroids and forced feeding – are effective at weight gain, but improving function.
Enobosarm bonds with some testosterone receptors, but not others. It avoids the side effects typically associated with anabolic steroids – coarser voice and facial hair.
While the enobosarm won’t allow people fighting advanced lung cancer to take on a marathon, it could make it possible for them to go shopping, to church and attend family events.
“What people want more than anything is to feel normal,” Croot said.
The Phase 2 study looked at only 159 people in the United States and Europe and didn’t evaluate whether the drug extended the lives of the patients with advanced lung cancer, who typically live eight to 12 months.
The larger Phase 3 trial, which Croot and his patients also participated in, is complete, but the data hasn’t been unblinded yet.
“They’re in the process of crunching the numbers,” Croot said. “We’ll know by the end of the year.”
If Phase 3 went well, they may look at putting advanced lung cancer patients on the drug at the time of diagnosis to prevent cancer-related weight loss.
“The FDA is impressed with the data on use with lung cancer,” Croot said, noting the drug has not yet been approved. “If this works like we hope, this will be used in every person with advanced lung cancer.”