Keeping Up With How Drugs Work

Get Permission

I love reading The ASCO Post, but I have a suggestion. For your reports on drug development, how about making it a policy to note the class or type of any new agent being discussed—ie, a brief description of the drug’s mechanism of action?

For example, a recent issue included a nice article summarizing the approval of daratumumab (Darzalex), but nowhere in the piece was there any mention of what type of drug daratumumab is. It would be a great learning opportunity and improve the summary if you offered a simple statement like: “Daratumumab is a human IgG1k monoclonal antibody that binds with high affinity to the transmembrane ectoenzyme CD38 on the surface of multiple myeloma cells. It is postulated to induce rapid tumor cell death through diverse mechanisms of action.”

Similarly, a recent article on TAS-102 was intriguing but does not describe what the drug is. Who can keep track of all the hundreds of agents being studied in oncology?

—Lou Vaickus, MD, FACP
President and Founder akta
Pharmaceutical Development (aktaPD)


Editor’s Reply

It is, in fact, the policy of The ASCO Post to describe a drug’s class or mechanism of action, particularly in articles reporting on investigational or newly approved agents, but we appreciate Dr. Vaickus’ keeping us on our toes.

TAS-102 is an orally administered combination of trifluridine (a thymidine-based nucleoside analog) and tipiracil (a thymidine phosphorylase inhibitor). The combination increases trifluridine exposure by inhibiting its metabolism by thymidine phosphorylase. After uptake into cancer cells, trifluridine is incorporated into DNA, interfering with DNA synthesis and inhibiting cell proliferation. (The trifluridine/tipiracil combination was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as Lonsurf in September 2015.) ■