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Breath test could predict response to immunotherapy

Study found device accurately predicted responses in lung cancer


Researchers at the University of Amsterdam tested a diagnostic device developed by Dutch company Breathomix, and found that it was able to predict patients’ responses to immunotherapy with 85% accuracy. 

The device works by measuring chemicals in the breath, which can be altered by the presence of tumours. The test detects certain levels of chemicals and an online tool then uses the data to determine if the patient would respond to certain immunotherapies, including checkpoint inhibitor drugs.

Although checkpoint inhibitors, including PD-1/PD-L1 blockbusters Keytruda (pembrolizumab) from MSD and Opdivo (nivolumab) from Bristol-Myers Squibb, have improved survival in various cancer areas, most patients do not benefit and effective methods are needed which can predict response.

The study, published in the Annals of Oncology, involved patients receiving a checkpoint inhibitor therapy, and collected breath profiles from the metal oxide semiconductor electronic nose (eNose). Patients were either on Keytruda or Opdivo.

The results found that the device was able to aid in differentiating between patients response at three months of anti-PD-1 treatment. The researchers concluded that the eNose device was an effective predictive method of determining patient response.

PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors block proteins which disguise tumours from disease-fighting cells, allowing the body to fight cancer cells. These therapies have been an important step forward in the immunotherapy treatment area.

However, these therapies do not work for all of those affected by cancer, and can only treat specific sub-sets of patients. The device could help in the treatment of cancer patients by predicting response before taking these therapies, which can be costly.

Despite being innovative drugs, having a method of prediction would aid healthcare professionals in choosing which method of treatment is the best course of action for individual patients.

The market for these therapies has grown increasingly over the last few years, with market-leader Keytruda bringing in $2.3bn in only the first three months of 2019.

It is currently being studied in more than 1,000 clinical trials to support continued expansion into new cancer areas. It is locked in a market battle with Opdivo, which contributed $1.82bn to BMS’ second-quarter revenues.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

20th September 2019

From: Research



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