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Clinical observation leads to lung cancer discovery
Date:3/7/2011

at ALK positive patients can be super sensitive to pemetrexed may have multiple implications for the 20,000 patients who are thought to develop this subtype of lung cancer every year in the United States.

"To get a new drug, like crizotinib, approved, it is usually compared to some standard chemotherapy. These new results highlight the importance of choosing that comparator carefully, so a beneficial effect is not missed just because the standard treatment does far better in a specific subgroup than it does in an average population," said Camidge. "This information could prevent the current crizotinib development plans from tripping over an unsuspected hurdle and helping to ensure that good new drugs get licensed when they should."

Knowing there is an established drug that could produce results comparable to the latest targeted therapies such as crizotinib may also help ALK-positive patients around the world. "These results suggest that if you are ALK positive and you don't have access to the experimental drug crizotinib then think about trying pemetrexed instead. It will also be very interesting to see if pemetrexed works as well in ALK positive patients after the crizotinib stops working," he said.

The discovery may even help to identify these rare ALK positive patients in the first place.

"Although good responses can occur in other subtypes of lung cancer, if you or someone you know is having a gang-buster response to pemetrexed and they haven't already been tested for ALK getting tested is probably the next thing to do," said Camidge.

The CU Cancer Center is an international leader in the molecular testing of lung tumors. In early 2008, the center started testing everyone with lung cancer for genetic mutations. Initially they only tested for two mutations, but now they test for 10 different molecular subtypes of lung cancer, including ALK.

"We test all our lung cancer patients at the Cancer Center. We dec
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Contact: Erika Matich
erika.matich@ucdenver.edu
720-848-7852
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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