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Some patients with treatment-resistant colorectal cancers may have a new option
Date:6/2/2013

PHILADELPHIA A subset of colorectal cancers responds to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) therapies, but develops resistance within months. Among cancers that develop resistance to anti-EGFR therapy, some showed overexpression of a gene called MET, according to a study published in the June issue of Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Preliminary data published in this study showed human tumors with MET amplification, grown in mice, responded to MET inhibitor drugs.

The MET gene is known to be amplified in about 10 percent of colorectal cancers, and is associated with worse prognosis.

The paper was also presented as part of an oral session at the 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

"Our studies provide evidence that colorectal cancer resistance to anti-EGFR therapies can be driven by MET gene amplification," said Alberto Bardelli, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Oncology at the University of Torino in Italy. "But what is more exciting is that we were able to detect these amplifications in the blood."

A subset of metastatic colorectal cancers responds to the anti-EGFR drugs cetuximab and panitumumab, but almost always develops resistance within several months of the initiation of therapy, according to Bardelli. Mutations in genes related to EGFR signaling, including KRAS, BRAF and NRAS, account for about 60 percent of the cases that develop resistance; the cause of resistance in tumors without these mutations is unknown.

"Unfortunately, patients whose tumors recur after anti-EGFR therapy are out of further options currently," said Bardelli. "The possibility that we can identify those who have MET amplification using a blood test is exciting because they might be treated with MET inhibitors."

Bardelli and his colleagues analyzed tumors from seven patients who developed resistance subsequent to anti-EGFR t
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Contact: Jeremy Moore
jeremy.moore@aacr.org
215-446-7109
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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