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Drug extends advanced lung cancer survival

health-and-fitness Updated: Jun 03, 2013 23:17 IST

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A new drug can help advanced lung cancer patients live longer and may aid in treating other kinds of cancer, researchers said Monday.

If the initial results are confirmed in a Phase III study already underway, it would be the first treatment developed in the past decade that can improve outcomes for patients with late-stage lung cancer.

Patients who received Synta’s drug ganetespib had a median overall survival of 9.8 months, compared with 7.4 months for those who received the standard treatment. The drug works by blocking a type of protein known as molecular chaperones that help newly formed proteins assume the proper shape needed to perform their specific biological function.

Since many of the proteins driving lung cancer growth require this chaperone -- heat shock protein 90, or Hsp90 -- blocking it can disable multiple cancer-fueling proteins at the same time. Researchers believe this may still work in patients who develop mutations that make them resistant to traditional targeted drugs.