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Gene Discovery Lays Groundwork for Targeted Therapies for Endometrial Cancer

wever they have not been druggable targets," says Pamela Pollock, Ph.D., head of TGen's Melanoma Research Unit. "We are excited about this discovery in that the testing of drugs designed to inhibit this gene in early clinical trials means that we are one step closer to personalized medicine for women with endometrial cancer driven by an altered FGFR2 gene." Pollock spent several years studying the FGFR2 gene in melanoma.

Pollock and Paul Goodfellow, Ph.D., an endometrial cancer expert and professor of surgery, genetics and obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine, are planning additional studies to investigate whether two drugs currently in Phase I trials for other cancers inhibit endometrial cell growth in the laboratory. Future studies include testing these drugs in mouse models of endometrial cancer before testing them in humans.

"We are planning to investigate FGFR2 in tumors from a much larger group of patients to determine whether mutations in the gene lead to aggressive cancers and poor outcome," says Goodfellow, also co-director of the Hereditary Cancer Core at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. "Given how frequent mutations are in endometrial cancers, we are hopeful we will be able to initiate a Phase II trial treating patients with an FGFR2 inhibitor within the next two to three years."

"This study illustrates the power of systematic searches for mutations in cancer genomes in identifying the abnormal genes responsible for driving cancers and providing new therapeutic avenues," says Michael Stratton, M.D., Ph.D., who along with Andrew Futreal, Ph.D., co-leads the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

Pollock has studied the FGFR2 gene in melanoma for more than three years. The team headed by Stratton and Futreal at the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Insti
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