IMAGE: John Heymach, M.D. view more
Credit: MD Anderson Cancer Center
A drug that failed to effectively strike larger targets in lung cancer hits a bulls-eye on the smaller target presented by a previously untreatable form of the disease, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in Nature Medicine.
Their research provided the scientific underpinning for clinical trials under way of the drug poziotinib against non-small-cell lung cancer that has a specific alteration called an exon 20 insertion in either the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).
“There’s no effective treatment for these patients, so we’re encouraged by early clinical trial results that show 7 of 11 patients (64 percent) with EGFR exon 20 mutations have confirmed tumor shrinkage after poziotinib treatment,” says John Heymach, M.D., professor and chair of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology. “We need to see if these unprecedented response rates are maintained through the remainder of the trial, but our scientific findings provide a basis for optimism.”
So far, 47 patients have enrolled in MD Anderson’s original phase II trial for EGFR and 12 are enrolled in the HER2 arm. The drug’s owner, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, has opened a multi-center
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