An experimental drug shrank tumors in patients with a variety of cancers sharing the same genetic defect, new studies found, part of a push in oncology research to treat tumors by their molecular traits regardless of where they are in the body.
Loxo Oncology Inc.’s drug, larotrectinib, was tested in patients who had one of 17 different types of cancer at an advanced stage, including rare ones like salivary-gland cancer and more common types like colon and lung cancers.
The tumors had a rare genetic abnormality known as tropomyosin receptor kinase, or TRK fusion, which is estimated to occur in just 1% of many common cancers…[W]hen TRK genes fuse to other genes, they can contribute to tumor cell growth.
Larotrectinib is designed to inhibit TRK fusions. Three Loxo-funded, early-stage studies with an aggregate total of more than 50 patients found that 76% of them experienced tumor shrinkage after receiving the Loxo drug, and that most of the patients were still responding to the drug 12 months after starting treatment.
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