A biomarker called PD-1 could be the key to predicting survival or disease free interval in lung cancer patients who have had their tumor surgically removed. These were the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers from the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, together with researchers from the MedUni Graz and the University of Novi Sad. Their findings were presented recently at the 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer this December 2016.
It was previously noted in Austria that around 4,000 people develop lung cancer each year. It was also noted that around three quarters of these people with lung cancer have Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (or NSCLC). Half of these cases were also diagnosed to have the commonest subtype of NSCLC which are adencarcinomas. This is why early detection of the cancer is important. Early detection of the cancer can greatly increase a person's chances for survival and recovery. The options for lung cancer treatment include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy which may be given before or after surgery. Sometimes these treatment methods may be combined and immunotherapy may also be given.
The researchers of this study were able to show that a protein that is found on the surface of the body's immune cells called PD-1 may serve as a biomarker that can predict the survival of patients with adenocarcinoma. PD-1 is considered to be an immune checkpoint protein that monitors the proper functioning of the immune response of the body. If the immune system goes unchecked, this could give rise to the development of autoimmune disorders.
In this particular study, the researchers studied cancer cells and immune system cells from 159 subjects. All these patients had resection of the primary tumor and some of them have received chemotherapy after surgery. PD-1 was found on immune cells of 45% of these patients while PD-L1 was found on cancer cells of 37% subjects. The findings showed that survival and disease-free survival was increased in patients where PD-1 was found than in those where it was not found. Also, there was no difference in the prognosis in the presence or absence of PD-L1.
According to the researchers, this study is important because it can help predict survival among lung cancer patients. Their results have shown that PD-1 could be used as a biomarker that can predict the survival of cancer patients whose adenocarcinoma can be surgically removed. However, they admit that more studies are needed to confirm these findings.