The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May approved an immunotherapy for a deadly type of lung cancer.

The treatment, called Imdelltra (generic name tarlatamab), is a T-cell therapy that helps the immune system find and attack cancer cells. The therapy is manufactured by Amgen.

The FDA approved Imdelltra for extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer patients who experienced disease progression during or after trying chemotherapy. People with extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer have a 5-year survival rate of just 3%.

 

How Does Imdelltra Work?

Imdelltra is a bispecific T-cell engager therapy. The treatment helps T cells recognize and kill cancer cells. The therapy directs T cells to target cells carrying a protein called DLL3, which is expressed on the surface of small-cell lung cancer cells in up to 96% of cases.

Imdelltra acts as a bridge between lung cancer cells carrying DLL3 and T cells. The immunotherapy binds to DLL3 on tumor cells and the protein CD3 on T cells, which activates T cells against the cancer cells.

Imdelltra is the first and only DLL3-targeting bispecific T-cell engager therapy and the first T-cell engager therapy approved for small-cell lung cancer.

The FDA approval comes after a phase 2 clinical trial called the DeLLphi-301 study. It included more than 200 people with small-cell lung cancer. The immunotherapy caused cancer tumors to shrink in 40% of the study participants, who received Imdelltra every two weeks.

The median survival for people who received the T-cell therapy in the clinical trial was 14.3 months. This is an improvement on the median survival for small-cell lung cancer.

 

Incidence, Survival and Treatment Options for Small-Cell Lung Cancer

More than 2.2 million people worldwide are diagnosed with lung cancer each year. Asbestos can cause lung cancer. People who are exposed to asbestos may have tiny particles enter their body and get stuck in the exterior tissue wall of the lungs. If the asbestos fibers irritate the cells and cause inflammation, then they can mutate into cancer.

There are two main types of lung cancer: small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. The main difference is the size of the tumor cells and how quickly they spread.

Small-cell lung cancer is the most deadly, and patients often cannot have surgery to remove the tumor. The 5-year survival rate for small-cell lung cancer is just 7%, and the average survival is less than one year.

Small-cell lung cancer is also less common than non-small-cell lung cancer, accounting for approximately 15% of all lung cancer cases. There are approximately 35,000 cases of small-cell lung cancer diagnosed in the United States each year.

There are nearly a dozen other approved treatment options for small-cell lung cancer. Some of them – such as Imfinzi (durvalumab), Keytruda (pembrolizumab), Opdivo (nivolumab) and Tecentriq (atezolizumab) – are in a class of immunotherapy called immune checkpoint inhibitors. These therapies also help T cells find and attack cancer cells, but in a different way than Imdelltra does.

The large majority of people with small-cell lung cancer are diagnosed with extensive-stage lung cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of Cancer. Extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer means the tumor has spread beyond the lungs or lung cavity, often to distant areas such as the brain or spinal cord. Surgery is not an option for extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer.

Sources & Author

  1. FDA Approves Imdelltra (Taralatamab-DLLE), the First and Only T-cell Engager Therapy for the Treatment of Extensive-Stage Small-Cell Lung Cancer. Amgen. Retrieved from: https://www.amgen.com/newsroom/press-releases/2024/05/fda-approves-imdelltra-tarlatamabdlle-the-first-and-only-tcell-engager-therapy-for-the-treatment-of-extensivestage-small-cell-lung-cancer. Accessed: 05/30/2024.
  2. Tarlatamab Shows Promise for Some People with Small Cell Lung Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2023/tarlatamab-previously-treated-sclc. Accessed: 05/30/2024.
  3. Tarlatamab Shows Promise in Patients with Previously Treated Small-Cell Lung Cancer. ESMO. Retrieved from: https://www.esmo.org/oncology-news/tarlatamab-shows-promise-in-patients-with-previously-treated-small-cell-lung-cancer. Accessed: 05/30/2024.
  4. A 2022 Update on Extensive Stage Small-Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). Journal of Cancer. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9330463/. Accessed: 05/30/2024.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

    Sources & Author

Picture of Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.