Study examines drug resistance in ALK positive lung cancer

January 19, 2012

Scientists from the University of Colorado Cancer Center have once again advanced the treatment of a specific kind of lung cancer. The team has documented how anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) becomes resistant to a drug targeting the abnormal protein in the cancer. It's the first time scientists have analyzed the frequency and type of drug resistance in ALK positive patients taking crizotinib.

Crizotinib, a tablet, shrinks tumors in the majority of ALK positive patients with dramatic responses in more than 60 percent of cases. The responses last approximately 48 weeks because the cancer eventually becomes resistant.

A study published in , a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), reveals ALK positive lung cancer mutates in two main ways. The cancer changes the ALK protein so that the crizotinib is ineffective against it or it develops another type of cancer molecule that makes the cancer less dependent on ALK. If the ALK , it may be vulnerable to a stronger ALK inhibitor. If it combines with another type of cancer molecule, a combination of drugs may be effective.

"We know that crizotinib brings ALK positive lung cancer under control for most patients. We wanted to learn how the cancer mutates so we can better treat it once it returns," said Robert Doebele, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and CU Cancer Center investigator. "The mutations we documented show us once again that we can't treat cancer as one disease. Cancer is as individual as our patients."

The study was done at the CU Cancer Center and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

"We are leading the way in the molecular testing of . The testing helps us tailor individual treatments to specific sub-types of the disease" said Cancer Center investigator D. Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, director of the thoracic oncology clinical program at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH). "As the cancer changes, we have to change the way we attack it."

Explore further: First and only therapeutic drug for ALK-positive lung cancer approved

Related Stories

First and only therapeutic drug for ALK-positive lung cancer approved

August 31, 2011
In a major triumph for personalized medicine, the FDA approved the drug crizotinib for use with the lung cancer type known as ALK-positive.

Benefit of targeted lung cancer therapy confirmed

June 3, 2011
A drug that targets a specific type of lung cancer shows a dramatic response in more than half of the people who take it. The drug, called crizotinib, has been in clinical trials since 2006, and the results from the largest ...

ALK rearrangement found in nearly 10 percent of patients in Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium

July 5, 2011
ALK rearrangement has been found in 9.6% of lung cancer patients tested in the Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium, and MET amplification in another 4.1%, reflecting how many patients might benefit from targeted therapies such ...

Study: Inexpensive method detects ALK rearrangement in lung cancer patients

August 2, 2011
A relatively simple and inexpensive method may be used to determine whether a lung cancer patient is a candidate for crizotinib therapy, according to research published in the August issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, ...

Recommended for you

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Physical activity could combat fatigue, cognitive decline in cancer survivors

July 25, 2017
A new study indicates that cancer patients and survivors have a ready weapon against fatigue and "chemo brain": a brisk walk.

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

New therapeutic approach for difficult-to-treat subtype of ovarian cancer identified

July 24, 2017
A potential new therapeutic strategy for a difficult-to-treat form of ovarian cancer has been discovered by Wistar scientists. The findings were published online in Nature Cell Biology.

Immune cells the missing ingredient in new bladder cancer treatment

July 24, 2017
New research offers a possible explanation for why a new type of cancer treatment hasn't been working as expected against bladder cancer.

Anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agent inhibits glioblastoma growth and radiation resistance

July 24, 2017
Glioblastoma is a primary brain tumor with dismal survival rates, even after treatment with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. A small subpopulation of tumor cells—glioma stem cells—is responsible for glioblastoma's ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.