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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Discovery Aided Quest for Adult Cancer Drug
Date:9/29/2011

l trial of Xalkori to include patients with ALK-positive advanced NSCLC. Xalkori blocks the cancer-causing activity of the ALK protein. Additional clinical trials with the drug are now underway in other cancers, including neuroblastoma and ALCL, the lymphoma that launched the search.

The ALK discovery and related later research led to five U.S. patents for St. Jude. The patented work includes methods for detecting the chromosomal rearrangements that unleash the cancer-causing ability of the ALK gene as well as tools to identify and characterize drugs for cancers caused by ALK deregulation. Morris, Look and their colleagues also worked with another pharmaceutical company to design a diagnostic assay to identify patients with the ALK mutation. The test, a fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assay, has been marketed for more than a decade. In August, it won FDA approval as a diagnostic test for use with Xalkori.

Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude director and chief executive officer, said the ALK story captures an important aspect of the hospital's commitment. "Our focus is on finding cures for pediatric diseases, but our discoveries often provide insights that can be building blocks for advances in other diseases, including adult cancers. We are committed to facilitating this so that the most good can come from our discoveries," he said.

Working through the St. Jude Office of Technology Licensing, Pfizer obtained licenses to the hospital's patented research tools. Several other companies have executed licenses with St. Jude to use these patent rights.

This year about 210,000 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. Current estimates are that approximately 3 to 5 percent, or 6,500 to 11,000 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, carry the ALK rearrangement and may be candidates for treatment with Xalkori.

Today, Morris is a member of the St. Jude Pathology and Oncolo
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SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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