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Massachusetts General study defines a new genetic subtype of lung cancer
Date:1/31/2012

A report from investigators at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center has defined the role of a recently identified gene abnormality in a deadly form of lung cancer. Tumors driven by rearrangements in the ROS1 gene represent 1 to 2 percent of non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLC), the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. The researchers show that ROS1-driven tumors can be treated with crizotinib, which also inhibits the growth of tumors driven by an oncogene called ALK, and describe the remarkable response of one patient to crizotinib treatment.

"ROS1 encodes a protein that is important for cell growth and survival, and deregulation of ROS1 through chromosomal rearrangement drives the growth of tumors," says Alice Shaw, MD, PhD, of the MGH Cancer Center co-lead author of the paper which has been published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "This finding is important because we have drugs that inhibit ROS1 and could lead to the sort of dramatic clinical response we describe in this paper."

The current findings add ROS1 to the list of genes known to drive NSCLC growth when altered a list that includes KRAS, mutations of which account for about 25 percent of cases; EGFR, accounting for 10 to 15 percent; and ALK, rearranged in about 4 percent. Altogether, known cancer-causing genetic changes have been found in a little more than half of NSCLC tumors. Originally identified in brain tumors, ROS1 rearrangement previously had been identified in one NSCLC patient and one NSCLC cell line. The current study was designed to determine the frequency of ROS1 rearrangement in NSCLC and to define the characteristics of patients with ROS1-rearranged tumors.

The investigators screened tumor samples from more than 1,000 NSCLC patients treated at the MGH, Vanderbilt University, the University of California at Irvine, and Fudan University in Shanghai, China. ROS1 rearrangement was identified in 18 tumor sample
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Contact: Katie Marquedant
kmarquedant@partners.org
617-726-0337
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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