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Yale Cancer Center Study Shows New Drug Combinations Improve Outcomes for Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer

Friday, September 17, 2021

New Haven, CT — New findings from a large study led by researchers at Yale Cancer Center shows the addition of the drugs oleclumab or monalizumab to durvalumab improved progression-free survival for patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The data is part of the COAST trial and will be presented on September 17, 2021 at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

“Our results from the COAST trial are very encouraging as the data suggest these novel immunotherapy drug combinations can improve clinical outcomes for patients with advanced NSCLC,” said Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, Chief of Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital and senior author of the study. “The majority of patients with NSCLC are diagnosed with tumors that can’t be removed with surgery, however advances in chemotherapy and radiation therapy have proven effective. We are using our lab based scientific research to make new, more effective therapies post radiation available to improve survival.”

COAST is an open label, randomized, phase 2 trial that studied at adjuvant therapy with durvalumab alone or in combination with oleclumab or monalizumab in patients with locally advanced, unresectable, stage III NSCLC. Durvalumab works with a patient’s immune system to interfere with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body. Results show oleclumab, an anti-CD73 monoclonal antibody, or monalizumab, an anti-NKG2A monoclonal antibody, in combination with durvalumab improved progression-free survival. After a follow-up of 11.5 months, the data revealed durvalumab in combination with oleclumab reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 56%, and in combination with monalizumab by 35%, when compared to durvalumab alone. The 10-month progression free survival rate was 64.8% for the durvalumab plus oleclumab combination and 72.7% for durvalumab plus monalizumab, versus 39.2% with durvalumab alone.

“These findings support further evaluation of these drug combinations and have helped us better understand the important challenges of sensitivity and resistance to immunotherapy,” said Herbst. “This year more than two million people worldwide are estimated to be diagnosed with lung cancer; our work continues on behalf of these patients.”

This study was funded by AstraZeneca.


Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven is part of the nationally recognized Yale New Haven Hospital, and is affiliated with Yale Cancer Center (YCC), one of only 56 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation and the only such center in Connecticut. Smilow Cancer Hospital, the most comprehensive cancer facility in New England, includes private inpatient rooms, multidisciplinary outpatient treatment centers, 12 operating rooms, infusion suites, diagnostic imaging services, and specialized women's and children’s services. Smilow Cancer Hospital also operates a dozen outpatient care centers across Connecticut. YCC and Smilow Cancer Hospital are members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of 28 cancer centers in the U.S., whose mission is to improve the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of oncology care.