New, emerging research continually reminds scientists that although large gains have been made in understanding and treating lung cancer, there is still much to discover and exploit for new treatment options. Published in Clinical Cancer Research entitled, “FGFR1/3 Tyrosine Kinase Fusions Define a Unique Molecular Subtype of Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer,” a study initiated at Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center identified the frequency and characteristics of patients with newly discovered fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR)-3 fusion genes.
By looking at 1,328 non-small cell lung cancer patients, the researchers were able to study fourteen known FGFR variants. Their studies involved reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR, a way of determining genetic codes present in cells) and gathering patient information such as age, sex, smoking status, cancer stage, and survival.
Interestingly, there was a significant association between larger tumor size and smokers with FGFR fusions. These patients’ tumors were also poorly differentiated. The most common FGFR fusions were BAG4-FGFR1 (0.2% of patients) and FGFR3-TACC3 (1.1% of patients). Eleven out of the 312 lung squamous cell carcinoma patients had either of these fusions, and six out of the 1,016 patients with lung adenocarcinoma patients had FGFR-TACC3 fusions.
Although these numbers are not overwhelming, it is key to identify the frequency of FGFR fusion genes, as they are druggable targets. These data are useful for determining which lung cancer patients may benefit from certain therapies and may open doors for patients who are otherwise unresponsive to traditional lung cancer therapies.
A full online text of the study can be accessed on the Clinical Cancer Research website.