Study identifies which patients can benefit from targeted lung cancer drug and why

t be especially responsive to treatment with Iressa."

To test that idea, investigators analyzed tumor samples from five patients who had been successfully treated with Iressa and four patients whose tumors did not respond. All of the responders were found to have EGFR mutations, while none of the four whose lung cancers did not respond had mutations.

"Our results suggest that screening patients for EGFR mutations can help predict whether they will be responsive to treatment with Iressa," comments Johnson, who is also a faculty member at Brigham and Women's and HMS. "They also point to the fact that certain ethnic populations may benefit from Iressa therapy to a greater degree than others."

The Dana-Farber team's next step will be to conduct clinical trials to determine if combining Iressa with other targeted treatments can benefit patients not helped by Iressa alone. They hope to undertake these studies with colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital who are also engaged in kinase research.

The Science study stems from a program at Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute that has come to be known as the Kinase Project. The project, which grew out of a conversation between Sellers and Meyerson while traveling to a science conference, seeks to identify abnormal tyrosine kinases enzymes that spark or halt growth in cancer cells and test agents known to act against them.

"The focus on kinases grew out of the idea that they may offer a way to have an immediate impact on cancer," remarks Sellers, who is also on the faculty at the Broad Institute and HMS. "This study demonstrates that rational drug design developing drugs based on an understanding of basic biological processes offers real hope in changing the course of cancer care and treatment."


Contact: Bill Schaller
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

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