A research team recently identified a small group of genes related to tumor growth present in three-quarters of the most common types of lung cancer that can help to develop new drugs against new tumor targets, as well as identify more patients who can be treated with already existing medications.
“To treat lung cancer you are not going to have a silver bullet, you are going to need a lot of different combinations of treatments against different targets,” said Matthew Meyerson, a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, lead investigator, and a member of the Broad Institute in Cambridge and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as quoted in an article on Bloomberg .
Taking Dr. Meyerson’s perspective into consideration, the researchers suggested that a drug already on the market — Xalkori, from Pfizer — may not only help patients with a mutation in ALK gene, but also those with MET alteration, Meyerson explained.
The results of Meyerson’s study, which were recently published in the journal Nature, identified 18 key mutations of related genes (RTK/RAS e RAF) in a universe of 230 adenocarcinoma lung tumors, a type of cancer more common in smokers that may cause tumor’s growth.
According to the article, these findings complete previous studies that identified a variety of genetic alterations bonded to lung cancer.
This research is also part of a project sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s Cancer Genome Atlas, which analyzes numerous samples of cancer, namely ovarian, colon, breast cancer, and leukemia.
This year, about 224.000 new lung cancer cases will be diagnosed, and 159,000 will eventually die, according to the American Cancer Society. As one of the leading causes of death, any new finding can have a major impact on treating the disease, said Meyerson. These new findings in particular can “be a really useful resource for those who are working in this area,” he suggested.