Responses with Crizotinib in MET-Amplified Lung Cancer Show New Targetable Form of Disease

In 2011, the drug crizotinib earned accelerated approval by the US FDA to target the subset of advanced non-small cell lung cancers caused by rearrangements of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene, and subsequently was granted regular approval in 2013. The drug also has shown dramatic responses in patients whose lung cancers harbored a different molecular abnormality, namely ROS1 gene rearrangements. Previously unreported phase 1 clinical trial results now show that crizotinib may have a third important molecular target. In advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients with intermediate and high amplifications of the MET gene, crizotinib produced either disease stabilization or tumor response. Sixty-seven percent of patients with high MET amplification showed prolonged response to the drug, which lasted from approximately 6 months to nearly 2.5 years.”

Editor’s note: Crizotinib (aka Xalkori) is a targeted therapy drug that kills cancer cells by targeting certain molecules found in the cells. It was already known that crizotinib works well for some patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose cancer cells have mutations in the ALK gene and in the ROS1 gene; such mutations, or “molecular biomarkers,” are detected by a medical procedure known as “molecular testing,” or “genetic testing.” Now, scientists say that crizotinib may also be effective for patients with advanced NSCLC whose tumors have abnormally high activity of a protein called MET, which can also be detected via molecular testing.


Conference Abstract – MAP Kinase Pathway Alterations in BRAF-Mutant Melanoma Patients With Acquired Resistance to Combined RAF/MEK Inhibition

“Treatment of BRAF-mutant melanoma with combined dabrafenib and trametinib, which target RAF and the downstream MAP–ERK kinase (MEK)1 and MEK2 kinases, respectively, improves progression-free survival and response rates compared with dabrafenib monotherapy. Mechanisms of clinical resistance to combined RAF/MEK inhibition are unknown. This study represents an initial clinical genomic study of acquired resistance to combined RAF/MEK inhibition in BRAF-mutant melanoma, using WES and RNA-seq. The presence of diverse resistance mechanisms suggests that serial biopsies and genomic/molecular profiling at the time of resistance may ultimately improve the care of patients with resistant BRAF-mutant melanoma by specifying tailored targeted combinations to overcome specific resistance mechanisms.”

Editor’s note: We previously covered the benefits of a dabrafenib/trametinib combo for advanced-stage melanoma. However, some patients’ tumors become resistant to this drug combination and new treatment routes need to be considered. This study is exploring how molecular testing of specific genetic mutations in patients’ tumors might be used to help guide treatment decisions after they become resistant to the dabrafenib/trametinib combo.


Personalized Medicine Best Way to Treat Cancer, Study Argues

“Assessing the route to cancer on a case-by-case basis might make more sense than basing a patient’s cancer treatment on commonly disrupted genes and pathways, a new study indicates. “This paper argues for the importance of personalized medicine, where we treat each person by looking for the etiology of the disease in patients individually,” said the lead author. “The findings have ramifications on how we might best optimize cancer treatments as we enter the era of targeted gene therapy.”


Personalized Medicine Best Way to Treat Cancer, Study Argues

“Assessing the route to cancer on a case-by-case basis might make more sense than basing a patient’s cancer treatment on commonly disrupted genes and pathways, a new study indicates. “This paper argues for the importance of personalized medicine, where we treat each person by looking for the etiology of the disease in patients individually,” said the lead author. “The findings have ramifications on how we might best optimize cancer treatments as we enter the era of targeted gene therapy.”


Personalized Medicine Best Way to Treat Cancer, Study Argues

“Assessing the route to cancer on a case-by-case basis might make more sense than basing a patient’s cancer treatment on commonly disrupted genes and pathways, a new study indicates. “This paper argues for the importance of personalized medicine, where we treat each person by looking for the etiology of the disease in patients individually,” said the lead author. “The findings have ramifications on how we might best optimize cancer treatments as we enter the era of targeted gene therapy.”


Novartis Revolutionizes Clinical Trials for Targeted Cancer Drugs


Someone had to do it; now it looks like Novartis may be the first. The pharma company’s new series of clinical trials, SIGNATURE (also known as, ‘bring the protocol to the patient,’ or  ‘P2P’), is recruiting patients with different cancers to receive investigational targeted drugs selected to match the distinct genetic changes found in each patient’s tumor. Continue reading…


Development of Diagnostic Tests for Targeted Therapies Faces Multiple Challenges

Targeted therapies are treatments aimed at specific biomarkers, such as genetic mutations, or overexpressed proteins. Tests that detect the targeted biomarker are needed to determine whether a patient would benefit from the treatment. The FDA offers an approval pathway for such tests, so-called “companion diagnostics” (CoDx), which requires that the test be evaluated alongside the drug in clinical trials. However, testing laboratories can also develop their own tests. These “laboratory-developed tests” (LDTs) are not currently regulated by the FDA. Development of LDTs is therefore much cheaper and faster (making CoDx comparatively less economically viable), but provides less evidence that these test are indeed effective. Moreover, LDTs can be designed to test for many different biomarkers, thus making more efficient use of limited biopsy tissue, while CoDx usually only test for the one biomarker relevant for their companion drug. A recent article calls for test developers, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and the FDA to collaborate in resolving these issues.


Development of Diagnostic Tests for Targeted Therapies Faces Multiple Challenges

Targeted therapies are treatments aimed at specific biomarkers, such as genetic mutations, or overexpressed proteins. Tests that detect the targeted biomarker are needed to determine whether a patient would benefit from the treatment. The FDA offers an approval pathway for such tests, so-called “companion diagnostics” (CoDx), which requires that the test be evaluated alongside the drug in clinical trials. However, testing laboratories can also develop their own tests. These “laboratory-developed tests” (LDTs) are not currently regulated by the FDA. Development of LDTs is therefore much cheaper and faster (making CoDx comparatively less economically viable), but provides less evidence that these test are indeed effective. Moreover, LDTs can be designed to test for many different biomarkers, thus making more efficient use of limited biopsy tissue, while CoDx usually only test for the one biomarker relevant for their companion drug. A recent article calls for test developers, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and the FDA to collaborate in resolving these issues.


Development of Diagnostic Tests for Targeted Therapies Faces Multiple Challenges

Targeted therapies are treatments aimed at specific biomarkers, such as genetic mutations, or overexpressed proteins. Tests that detect the targeted biomarker are needed to determine whether a patient would benefit from the treatment. The FDA offers an approval pathway for such tests, so-called “companion diagnostics” (CoDx), which requires that the test be evaluated alongside the drug in clinical trials. However, testing laboratories can also develop their own tests. These “laboratory-developed tests” (LDTs) are not currently regulated by the FDA. Development of LDTs is therefore much cheaper and faster (making CoDx comparatively less economically viable), but provides less evidence that these test are indeed effective. Moreover, LDTs can be designed to test for many different biomarkers, thus making more efficient use of limited biopsy tissue, while CoDx usually only test for the one biomarker relevant for their companion drug. A recent article calls for test developers, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and the FDA to collaborate in resolving these issues.