Atezolizumab is in clinical development for stage IV non-squamous or squamous non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC makes up the majority of lung cancers in the UK.
Stage IV (advanced/metastatic) NSCLC is when the cancer has spread beyond the lung which was initially affected, most often to the liver, the adrenal glands, the bones, and the
brain. Most patients with NSCLC are diagnosed at the advanced/metastatic stage where curative treatment with surgery is unsuitable. Currently, chemotherapy remains the main
first line option at this stage and often not well tolerated by many patients.
Atezolizumab is a monoclonal antibody against the protein, programed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), which is highly expressed on certain tumours. This overexpression can lead to
reduced activation of immune cells that might otherwise recognise and attack cancer cells. By attaching to PD-L1 and reducing its effect, atezolizumab increases the ability of the
immune system to attack cancer cells and thereby slows the progression of the disease. If licensed, atezolizumab will offer an additional treatment option for patients with
untreated stage IV squamous or non-squamous NSCLC.
Pembrolizumab is an immunomodulatory medicinal product, meaning that it helps the immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells. It is administered by intravenous infusion and is currently licensed in the UK for melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and urothelial cancer – amongst others. If licensed, pembrolizumab, in addition to chemotherapy, would offer an alternative treatment for those with advanced, recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer.