Cyramza (ramucirumab) is a cancer drug developed by Lilly. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014 to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and advanced stomach cancer and colorectal cancer, in patients whose cancer has progressed despite previous chemotherapy.

For NSCLC patients, Cyramza is given in combination with another chemotherapy, Taxotere (docetaxel).

How Cyramza works

Cyramza is a compound that binds to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor-2 and blocks the binding of VEGF to its receptor. VEGF is the prime mediator of angiogenesis, or the formation of new capillaries and blood vessels, around a tumor, feeding it and leading to its growth.

VEGF and VEGF receptor-2 mediated signaling and angiogenesis are key players in the development of lung cancer and gastric cancer. By blocking the ligand-stimulated activation of VEGF receptor-2, Cyramza inhibits ligand-induced proliferation and migration of human endothelial cells.

Cyramza in clinical trials

A double-blind, randomized Phase 3 trial (NCT01168973) compared the safety and efficacy of Cyramza given with Taxotere. The drug combination was used as a second-line treatment in patients with metastatic, or stage IV, NSCLC with disease progression after platinum-based chemotherapy. Study results, published in the medical journal The Lancet, showed that the combination therapy improves survival and can be indicated as second-line treatment in this group of patients.

The safety and efficacy of Cyramza were also tested in other cancers, such as gastric cancer and colorectal cancer, with positive results. However, the medicine, which is injected intravenously, has side-effects that may include, but are not limited to, infusion-related reactions, clinical worsening of certain liver diseases, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal perforation.

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