Promising phase II Results: New SCLC immunotherapy

Advancing care: Tarlatamab in previously treated SCLC.


Results from a recent clinical trial in Karl Landsteiner University of Krems, Austria, show promising outcomes for an immunotherapeutic treatment (Tarlatamab) in small-cell lung cancer. The international study (DeLLphi-301) involved 56 clinical centers across 17 countries, with the University Hospital Krems actively participating. Tarlatamab, previously explored as an option for untreatable patients, demonstrated anti-tumor activity and increased overall survival.

This is significant for small cell lung cancer, known for poor survival rates and limited third-line treatment options. The study, conducted by Amgen Inc., provides hope after a successful phase I trial, with results now published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One of the principal investigators of the study, Dr. Sabin Handzhiev from the Department of Pneumology at the University Hospital Krems, one of the education- and research sites of KL Krems, explains, “In fact, the analysis of this global study with 220 patients showed that with a dosage of 10 mg Tarlatamab, anti-tumor activity was initiated and maintained in 40% of patients treated in this way.”

Dr. Sabin Handzhiev continued, “To put these results in perspective, it is important to understand that patients with the current third-line treatment in clinical trials have an inferior prognosis. Only about 20 percent of them respond to any third-line treatment at all – and median overall survival is well below six months. Tarlatamab is a promising alternative, especially since 58% of patients responded to the 10 mg dose for at least six months.”

Tarlatamab boosts the body’s immune cells (T cells) to attack and destroy small lung cancer cells. Acting as a monoclonal antibody, it has two binding sites—one for T cells (CD3) and one for small cell lung cancer cells (DLL3). This targeted binding prompts the immune cells to eliminate the cancer cells. Dr. Handzhiev notes the significance of DLL3 as a therapeutic target since most patients with small-cell lung cancer have this surface molecule on cancer cells.

The study also compared a 100 mg dose, which showed less effectiveness and more side effects than the 10 mg dosage. Overall, the DeLLphi-301 study highlights the potential of T cell-binding antibodies for treating common solid tumors. Further clinical studies to apply these findings are planned or underway, with active support from KL Krems and its expertise in molecular oncology for patient benefit.

The Phase II clinical trial results of Tarlatamab present a significant advancement in the treatment landscape for small-cell lung cancer, offering hope for improved outcomes and extended survival. The targeted approach of this immunotherapy opens new avenues in the quest for effective and precise cancer treatments.

Journal reference:

  1. Myung-Ju Ahn, Byoung Chul Cho, et al., Tarlatamab for Patients with Previously Treated Small-Cell Lung Cancer. The New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2307980.


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