5. New Treatments for the Toolbox Needed
Nearly all SCLC patients relapse after their first-line treatment, chemotherapy, and have only one U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved option for second-line treatment, with no approved options for third-line treatment of the disease.
AbbVie is exploring approaches that may slow the progression of SCLC in different ways. One approach is to block an enzyme called PARP to stop the repair of faulty DNA in cancer cells. Left unchecked, PARP would allow cancer cells to repair and grow but if it’s inhibited, chemotherapy, which damages cancer cell DNA, may be more effective.
Another potential solution lies in a protein called DLL3 that’s only found on the surface of tumor cells of SCLC and some other cancers. Cytotoxins (molecules like chemotherapy) attach to a DLL3-binding antibody that may specifically target and destroy DLL3-expressing tumor cells at their roots.
Outside of AbbVie, researchers continue to add to the understanding of how SCLC grows and the new ways doctors might be able to treat it. One example is immunotherapies, which work in other types of cancer like non-small cell lung cancer by reactivat ing the immune system’s response so that it will find and destroy cancer cells. Studies are examining the effectiveness of immunotherapies in SCLC, particularly in combination with other treatments.5
While SCLC is tough to treat today, researchers are forging ahead with more than 700 clinical studies seeking new ways to treat this devastating disease and break the slow news cycle for good.