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New potential targets discovered for treating squamous cell lung cancers
Date:9/9/2012

Cambridge and Boston, MA. Sunday, September 9, 2012 A new paper published online in Nature holds out hope that people with the second most common type of lung cancer may one day benefit from targeted therapies that have transformed treatments for other lung cancer patients.

Squamous cell lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer, ranking second only to lung adenocarcinoma in the number of deaths it causes. But unlike the most common form of lung cancer, squamous cell carcinoma has no treatments aimed at the specific genetic alterations that drive it.

That picture may change. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network, led in part by scientists at the Broad Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Harvard Medical School, has identified many potential therapeutic targets based on the large number and variety of DNA alterations they discovered in most of the tumors they studied.

"This study clearly shows that squamous cell carcinoma, like lung adenocarcinoma, is a cancer with diverse genomic causes, many of which are potentially susceptible to drug inhibition," said Matthew Meyerson, co-leader of the project within TCGA, Broad senior associate member, and professor of pathology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. "This provides many new therapeutic opportunities for squamous cell carcinoma that would be suitable for clinical trials."

The first targeted treatments for lung adenocarcinoma, erlotinib (Tarceva) and gefitinib (Iressa), were aimed at mutations in the EGFR gene. Unfortunately, and like other drugs being tested in clinical trials that target several other genes altered in lung adenocarcinoma, they do not help patients with squamous cell carcinoma. The TCGA effort, a multicenter consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health, is the first comprehensive genomic characterization of this lung cancer subtype. Squamous cell carcin
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Contact: Haley Bridger
hbridger@broadinstitute.org
617-714-7968
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Source:Eurekalert

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