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Mixed News on Tough-to-Treat Lung Cancer
Date:1/10/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Dutch researchers report disappointing results from an early clinical trial of the drug Nexavar (sorafenib) in fighting a tough-to-treat form of lung cancer.

But, in better news, an experimental drug known as ganetespib showed promise in laboratory and animal experiments.

The results of both studies were to be presented Tuesday at an American Association for Cancer Research/International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer meeting in San Diego.

In recent years, researchers have made some headway in finding treatments to combat lung cancer, which often doesn't respond well to chemotherapy, explained Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

Those treatments include drugs such as crizotinib (Xalkori) and erlotinib (Tarceva), which are most effective in tumors that contain certain genetic mutations.

However, those drugs tend to not work well in people with tumors that contain a particular type of mutation in the KRAS gene. KRAS is the most common molecular mutation, present in about 25 percent of people with non-small cell lung cancers such as adenocarcinoma, particularly smokers, said Dr. Paul Bunn, a professor of lung cancer research at the University of Colorado and executive director of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

"The patients who have this mutation have a somewhat worse prognosis than patients who don't have this mutation, and have worse outcomes with chemotherapy," Bunn said. "Most drugs produce a shrinkage of the tumor in less than 10 percent of KRAS patients."

While a smaller, even earlier trial showed sorafenib might be that drug, the latest findings were not impressive. This larger trial by researchers in the Netherlands involving 57 patients with non-small cell lung cancer who had already failed chemotherapy and who had the KRA
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