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"Pre-treatment Blood Test" A New Guide to Lung Cancer Therapy

There are certain signature of proteins in the blood, which predicts non-small-cell lung cancer patients will live longer when they are treated with certain targeted cancer therapies -discovered by a multi-center team, led by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center investigators. This could help physicians decide which lung cancer patients to treat with drugs known collectively as EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, a step forward in the era of personalized medicine.

Theres a real clinical need to identify which patients will benefit from targeted therapies, said David Carbone, M.D., Ph.D., Harold L. Moses Professor of Cancer Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram and the senior author of the study. If our findings are confirmed, we will be able to use a simple and inexpensive blood test to select the most beneficial therapy for each patient.

Targeted cancer therapies are the newest generation of anti-cancer drugs. In contrast to traditional chemotherapy, targeted therapies affect proteins and signaling pathways that are selectively activated in certain malignant cells and not in normal cells. But this selectivity makes these therapies effective only for the subset of patients whose tumors are driven by the targeted pathways.

The drawbacks of treating every patient with a targeted therapy include the expense of these drugs, the delay for those who do not respond in initiation of effective therapy, and the possibility that some patients will be harmed by the targeted therapy.

In the case of the EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva), studies have demonstrated a survival benefit for 30 to 40 percent of lung cancer patients, but there has been no method for identifying these patients prior to treatment, Carbone said.

Investigators at Vanderbilt-Ingram, the University of Colorado in Aurora, Colo., and Biodesix Inc. in Steamboat Springs, Colo., with worldwide co
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