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Moffitt research assists targeted lung cancer therapy


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As part of the effort to help doctors create targeted personalized treatment for cancer patients, researchers at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center are studying altered genes thought to play a role in the development of the nation’s most common form of lung cancer.

Led by Eric Haura, director of the Moffitt Lung Cancer Center of Excellence, the investigators have been studying a set of 10 highly mutated genes. Called oncogenic driver genes, they are thought to play a role in the progression of lung adenocarcinoma, which strikes an estimated 130,000 Americans each year.

As they reported in the May 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Moffitt researchers, working in conjunction with the Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium, have been studying oncogenic driver genes from tissue samples from more than 1,000 lung cancer patients.

During their research, the Moffitt team has developed a method of analyzing multiple genes at the same time from a limited amount of lung cancer tissue. They did this because the growing number of cancer-associated mutated genes was making the testing increasingly inefficient.

The Moffitt study is thought to be the first to use the simultaneous analysis of multiple cancer gene mutations to guide targeted treatment.

Of the lung adenocarcinoma patients studied, 64 percent had at least one of the oncogenic driver genes in their cancer cells, the Moffitt team reported.

Based on this finding, the patients with the driver genes were offered anti-cancer therapies that were personalized to exploit the genetic profiles of their cancer cells. The patients who received the targeted therapies lived longer than those who did not, the researchers reported.

“Precision medicine is the future of cancer care. We are continuing this study by attempting to profile all advanced lung adenocarcinoma patients for driver genes to match them with appropriate therapies,” Haura said. “We’d like to extend this further to examine for driver genes in other types of lung cancer, such as squamous cell lung cancer.”

The team’s current efforts include using the technology it has developed to study anti-cancer drug resistance and developing additional methods of aiding clinical decision making.

In addition to Moffitt, members of the five-year-old Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium include the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York; M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn.; and Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Conn.

The Moffitt study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

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