New data from a study in the May 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association point the way to the development of targeted therapies for patients with lung cancer that may improve survival rates. Researchers flagged the presence of cancer-causing oncogenes and then employed targeted drug therapies that were matched to the specific oncogenic drivers.
Oncogenes, when activated by genetic mutations, can turn normal cells cancerous. By incorporated tumor genotyping, researchers detected an oncogentic driver in 64% of tumors from patients in the study. Once the driver oncogenes were identified in a patient’s tumor specimen, the information was used to “personalize” the selection of chemotherapy to address the specific genetic alterations in the tumor tissue. Although individuals with oncogenic drivers who received targeted drug treatment lived longer, randomized clinical trials will be required to determine if employing targeted therapy based on oncogenic drivers improves survival. Read a news story about the study findings here.