Tracking Resistance to Cancer Therapies Without Tumor Access


Clinicians would like to be able to monitor whether a cancer patient’s tumor has acquired a resistance mutation as a result of targeted therapy. Knowing early if resistance has developed would allow patients to switch therapies and to curb tumor growth. But taking repeated tumor samples is problematic for many reasons. Biopsies are invasive and some tumors are inaccessible. Another issue is that tumors are mosaics of many different types of cells that are constantly evolving—since biopsies take time in the clinic and only sample a small part of a tumor, they may also not be representative of what is going on with the biology of the entire tumor mass. Continue reading…


Medical Societies Recommend Testing for Lung Cancer Biomarkers


New guidelines recommend lung cancer patients be genetically tested to determine whether they are amenable to a class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Patients with EGFR or ALK mutations could benefit more from such targeted therapies, and suffer fewer side effects, than with chemotherapy. Continue reading…


Hsp90 Inhibitor Ganetespib Overcomes Resistance and Packs a Punch against ALK+ Tumors


A new drug has shown promising efficacy in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with an anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene mutation. Ganetespib overcame acquired resistance to the drug crizotinib and showed strong antitumor activity in mice. Ganetespib works by inhibiting a “chaperone” protein called Hsp90 and thus targets multiple cancer signaling pathways for a more complete and lasting effect. Continue reading…


From GRACE: Molecular Markers: The More You Seek, the More You Find


This week, we borrow a post from the excellent website of the Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE). GRACE founder and president Dr. Jack West is an oncologist who treats people with lung cancer. In the video below, he discusses his evolving views on molecular testing. To see the original post, and to explore the many other resources offered by GRACE, click here.

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Inhibition of Myc Protein Zaps Lung Tumors


Turning off a key protein eliminates lung tumors in mice, at least during treatment, according to new research published in the journal Genes & Development. Inhibition of Myc, a protein essential for lung tumors driven by a mutation in the KRas gene, resulted in regression of all tumors. Repeated treatments were found to be safe and effective. Continue reading…


Video: Cancer Survivor Sharon Anderson on the Importance of Patient-Donated Data


In 2002, Sharon Anderson was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called leiomyosarcoma (LMS). She joined an online discussion group to explore treatment options with other LMS patients, and tried a drug typically used for breast cancer. Her treatment was successful. In the video above, she tells us how she helped fellow LMS patients gather data about their own tumors and share it with a researcher. The resulting cancer vaccine is now in a phase I clinical trial. Continue reading…


Polytherapy Beats Monotherapy as Second-Line Treatment for NSCLC


Combining targeted therapy improves overall survival for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), compared to using the targeted drug erlotinib (Tarceva) alone, according to a recent study. By pooling data from eight clinical trials, researchers found that patient outcomes were improved when combination therapy was used as a second-line treatment for NSCLC.

Patients with advanced NSCLC who have already received initial therapy usually take erlotinib alone as a second-line treatment. Erlotinib directly targets the EGFR protein and can be particularly effective for patients with mutations in the EGFR gene. Continue reading…


Scientists Discover Crucial Link in the Pathway from Smoke to Lung Cancer


IKBKE, a newly identified gene that is activated by tobacco, could be a fresh target for lung cancer therapies. A new study in the journal Oncogene sheds light on the molecular pathways surrounding the activation of IKBKE, which contributes to lung carcinogenesis.

Patients tend to develop resistance to traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, the search for genetic therapy targets could yield individualized, powerful treatments that do not decrease in efficacy. Researchers at Florida’s Moffitt Cancer Center found that, in addition to playing a role in the development of chemoresistance, IKBKE is also part of a carcinogenic molecular pathway that can be set off by tobacco smoke. Continue reading…


Using Gene Expression to Predict Chemotherapy Benefit in NSCLC


The decision to seek additional treatment after surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy) for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can be difficult, because chemotherapy responses can be highly patient-specific and are often accompanied by serious adverse symptoms. Discovering genetic signatures that are associated with good treatment outcomes could help identify patients who are likely to benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. A new study in Clinical Cancer Research used this approach to isolate 12 genes that predict chemotherapy success in early-stage NSCLC. Continue reading…