Two Colorado studies find resistance mechanisms in ALK+ and ROS1+ cancers
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IMAGE: Robert C. Doebele, MD, PhD, and colleagues find resistance mechanisms in ALK+ and ROS1+ lung cancers, and demonstrate use to circulating tumor DNA to search for these mechanisms in patient… view more 

Credit: University of Colorado Cancer Center

Targeted treatments have revolutionized care for lung cancer patients whose tumors harbor ALK or ROS1 alterations. Basically, cancers may use these genetic changes to drive their growth, but also become dependent on the action of these altered genes for their survival. Targeted treatments like crizotinib block the actions of ALK and ROS1, thus killing cancers that depend on them. However, when doctors target ALK or ROS1, cancers often evolve new ways to survive. After a period of success, targeted treatments against ALK+ and ROS1+ lung cancers often fail.

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published today in the journal Clinical Cancer Research provides an in-depth look at how these ALK+ and ROS1+ cancers evolve to resist treatment. A second study demonstrates the ability to identify these changes in patient blood samples, perhaps easing the ability to monitor patients for these changes that provide early evidence that treatment is failing.

Unfortunately, the first study shows there is no single or

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