New vulnerability found in difficult-to-treat form of lung cancer

3 October 2016

Scientists have identified a previously unknown weakness that could be targeted to treat a form of lung cancer that has proven resistant to existing therapies.

A team from UT Southwestern Medical Center have made a breakthrough in the treatment of cancers driven by the aggressive and difficult-to-treat KRAS gene, which is believed to be responsible for about 25 per cent of all lung cancer cases.

It was found that by targeting and inactivating the protein XPO1 - which is found in the cell nucleus and used to transport gene products from the nucleus to the cytoplasm - it was possible to kill most of the KRAS mutant cancer cells.

This was achieved through the use of selinexor, also known as KPT-330, a drug that is already in clinical development for the treatment of other types of cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma, gynaecological, brain, prostate, and head and neck cancers.

Early tests with mice showed the drug was able to kill lung cancer cells and shrink tumours, though further research is needed to confirm these benefits.

Dr Michael White, adjunct professor of cell biology and senior author of the study, said: "We will not know whether the drug will be effective until clinical trials are done, which should be completed in about two years."

Posted by Jeanette Royston


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