NEJM reports positive results for larotrectinib against TRK-fusion cancer
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IMAGE: Early work by Robert C. Doebele, MD, PhD, now results in positive clinical trial results for larotrectinib against TRK-fusion cancers. view more 

Credit: University of Colorado Cancer Center

In 2013, the labs of University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator Robert C. Doebele, MD, PhD, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigator Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD reported in Nature Medicine the presence of TRK gene fusions as oncogenic drivers in patient samples of non-small cell lung cancer. Now five years later, the New England Journal of Medicine has published results of three early studies of the drug larotrectinib (formerly LOXO-101) to treat advanced-stage cancer patients whose tumors harbor these TRK fusion genes.

“The story of this drug demonstrates a new paradigm in anti-cancer drug development. We have discovery and validation of a new oncogenic driver, creation of an assay to find which cancers harbor TRK fusions, drug design and preclinical testing, and now academia-industry partnership that produces very promising clinical results,” says Doebele, director of the CU Cancer Center Thoracic Oncology Research Initiative and co-author of the current study.

The three clinical trials looked for TRK fusion genes in patients whose cancers had progressed after standard-of-care treatment (a phase 1

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