In an effort to come up with a better drug combination to treat terminal stage cancer tumors, two of the most powerful pharmaceutical companies in the world, AstraZeneca and Lilly, have joined forces in a drug trial in which the effects of MEDI4736 and Cyramza will be evaluated and studied.
The Cyramza drug is developed by Lilly and it is already in use for treating last stage gastric cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer.
The active substance in Cyramza is called ramucirumab and it is a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) Receptor 2 antagonist, this means that it reduces blood flow to the tumor and it inhibits its growth. However, the active substance cannot be directed solely on the tumor area and so it can cause severe side effects in the body.
There are those who judge this drug harshly, but one has to keep in mind that these types drugs are being designed for treating cancer in very advanced stages and just like any other drugs of this type, they have a very aggressive nature.
Some of the severe side effects of taking ramucirumab are hemorrhage, gastrointestinal perforation and impaired wound healing. This drug is also not used alone when treating cancers, but in various combinations meant to attack the cancer cells on all levels. The drugs combination in which Cyramza is currently being used are known to cause even more varied side effects, but they also have a proven effect in the downstage of a tumor, so doctors argue in their favor calling them a necessary evil.
MEDI4736 is a drug currently developed by AstraZeneca and it is a monoclonal antibody meant to help the immune system recognize cancer cells and attack them.s
Usually cancer cells hide from the immune system by adding a substance called a ligand (and in the types of cancers that MEDI4736 means to treat, the ligand is called PD-L1), on the immune cell`s receptor site. The PD-L1 ligand binds on the receptor site on the surface of tumor cells, which was meant for immune cells and by doing this it prevents the cancer cell from being recognized and destroyed by our own immune system.
The MEDI4736 drug targets and destroys the PD-L1, giving the body`s immune system a clear pathway to destroy the cancer cells. Currently, MEDI4736 has not been approved by the FDA and is in Phase III of clinical development and this means that its effects are being tested in combination with other drugs, on patients whose tumors have failed to respond to classical treatment.
The new drug combination that AstraZeneca and Lilly plans on offering to patients with terminal cancer, could be a beckon of hope towards a cure.
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