Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer. The most common type of lung cancer is nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). NSCLC has three sub-types that can be further grouped by their specific genetic mutation. Two of these types are ALK-positive and ROS1-positive lung cancer, both of which fuse with other genes and promote cancer tumour growth. Patients with ALK-positive and ROS1-positive NSCLC are similar in that they are often younger, have no history of smoking and have a particular type of NSCLC called adenocarcinoma (a cancerous tumour of the lung).
Lorlatinib is a new drug under development for the sub-group of advanced non-small cell lung cancer who are ALK or ROS1 positive and have already undergone gene treatment with drugs that specifically target this type of cancer. Lorlatinib is currently being evaluated in phase II clinical trials as an oral dose at 100 mg daily. If marketed it will become an additional targeted treatment for this sub-group of ALK or ROS1 positive patients.
Nivolumab is a drug that works by improving the activity of T-cells (a type of white blood cells) and thereby increasing the ability of the immune system to kill cancer cells. Ipilimumab is another drug that works in a different way to also increase the activity of T-cells. Both drugs are given by injection into the veins. It is thought these drugs when used together may be more effective than each drug on its own. If licenced, nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab will offer additional treatment option to prolong the lives of people with head and neck cancers.