Spanish researchers have identified a gene whose expression level strongly predicts how well certain lung cancer patients will respond to treatment with the drug erlotinib.
Dr Rafael Rosell and colleagues reported their findings at the European Multidisciplinary Conference in Thoracic Oncology (EMCTO), 24-26 February 2011 in Lugano, Switzerland.
The researchers studied 55 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, whose tumors had mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene. All were being treated with the drug erlotinib, which acts on the EGFR molecule.
"Currently we have no predictors for the duration of response to EGFR drugs in non-small cell lung cancer patients with EGFR mutation," Dr Rosell explained. "The median progression-free survival time for these patients ranges from 10 to 14 months, but there is a subgroup of patients with very short response while others have long lasting benefit."
Researchers in the Spanish Lung Cancer Group (SLCG), in cooperation with Pangaea Biotech, USP Dexeus University Institute, Barcelona -- which acts as one of the reference laboratories for the SLCG -- set out to find genes that predicted which patients would have a lasting benefit, and which would not. To do this, they used a technology called NanoString. "NanoString is an integrated digital technology with high levels of precision and sensitivity that detects expression levels of hundreds of genes in a single reaction, making it suitable for clinical use," Dr Rosell explained.
Dr Rosell and colleagues used the technology to examine expression levels of 48 different genes in 43 patients with EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer who were being treated with erlotinib.
They found that AEG (astrocye elevated gene 1, also known as metadherin) was the strongest predictor of progression-free survival in these patients. Progression-free survival was 27 months for those with low AEG-1 expression, compare
|Contact: Vanessa Pavinato|
European Society for Medical Oncology