Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study looking at a new immunotherapy to treat non small cell lung cancer (MAGRIT)
This study looked at a type of immunotherapy to help delay or prevent non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) coming back after surgery.
More about this trial
Doctors treat non small cell lung cancer with surgery, if it has been found at an early stage. You might also have chemotherapy after your surgery, if there is a risk that your cancer could come back. But the chemotherapy does not always work. And some people might not be well enough to cope with the side effects.
This study looked at a new treatment called MAGE-A3 ASCI. ASCI stands for Antigen-Specific Cancer Immunotherapeutic. This is a type of immunotherapy, also called a cancer vaccine.
Immune system cells search for and kill abnormal cells. But they don’t always recognise cancer cells as abnormal. The MAGE-A3 ASCI teaches immune cells to recognise a protein called MAGE-A3, found on some types of lung cancer cells. The theory is that the immune cells will then find and kill the lung cancer cells.
The aims of this study were to:
- see how well the MAGE-A3 ASCI works in delaying or stopping non small cell lung cancer coming back after surgery
- learn more about the side effects
- identify genetic characteristics of the cancer that may be linked to how well the immunotherapy works
Summary of results
The trial team found that MAGE-A3 was not a useful treatment for people to have after surgery for non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It did not increase the length of time it took before the cancer came back.
- 1,515 had MAGE-A3
- 757 had a dummy drug (
40 people were randomised but never started treatment.
People had MAGE-A3 or the placebo as an injection into their muscle (intramuscular).
Some people also had chemotherapy:
- 784 people in MAGE-A3 group
- 392 people in the placebo group
The trial team followed both groups to see how they were. They found that the average time people lived with no signs of their cancer was:
- just over 5 years (60.5 months) for the MAGE-A3 group
- just under 5 years (57.9 months) for the placebo group
These results included both people who had chemotherapy and those who didn’t have chemotherapy.
Because the treatment did not work well the trial team could not identify genetic characteristics. So they were not able to say whether genetic changes would show who might benefit most from MAGE-A3.
There were no significant differences in side effects between the 2 groups . But people having MAGE-A3 had more:
- mild reactions (redness, swelling, pain) at the place where they had the injections
- flu like symptoms
The trial team found that MAGE-A3 was safe to have. But because there was no treatment benefit it is no longer being looked at as a treatment for NSCLC.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Ernie Marshall
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer