When Guo Lin arrived at NYU Winthrop’s Lung Cancer Center in October 2014, his prognosis was grim. The 51-year-old former small business owner had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and initially responded well to traditional chemotherapy. Before long, though, symptoms returned, and his physician suggested participation in a clinical trial of a new immunotherapy drug, Opdivo®.
Lin and his family came to NYU Winthrop, the only Long Island hospital that participated in the trial that culminated in the recent approval of the drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2015. Opdivo® is the first drug ever approved for lung cancer that works by enabling the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Opdivo® inhibits a protein present in advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer cells that blocks the immune system from attacking the cancer cells.
“I was concerned about being in a trial,” Lin said, “But the doctors explained everything carefully and I was comfortable moving ahead. Everyone at NYU Winthrop has been so kind and professional.”
“We administered his first dose of Opdivo® in late October and Mr. Lin experienced almost immediate relief of symptoms,” explained Jeffrey G. Schneider, MD, interim chief of oncology/hematology and director of the Lung Cancer Program. “After six weeks of therapy with no side effects, repeat CT scans showed dramatic improvement in diffuse metastases. Most recent scans show ongoing tumor regression and no new sites of disease.” An active man who prior to his illness enjoyed jogging and playing basketball, Lin is back participating in many activities he enjoys.
“The real excitement here is that, unlike what we see with responses to conventional chemotherapy, these immunologic responses are long lasting and promise to return normal longevity to patients like Mr. Lin. The goal now is to make this work for all of our cancer patients,” Dr. Schneider said.