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Promise and Progress - Molecular Marker of Cancer Drug Response

Reprogramming Cancer Cells - The Story of Epigenetics
Issue No. 1

Molecular Marker of Cancer Drug Response

Date: July 16, 2014

PLOS ONE, July 2013

Researchers uncovered a molecular biomarker that can accurately predict patients who will best respond to a class of common anticancer drugs known as EGFR inhibitors.  In studies of a variety of tumors with EGFR mutations, high levels of a protein called Mig 6 predicted tumors that would not respond to EGFR inhibitors. Mig 6 helps control the expression of EGFR, and they found that as Mig 6 levels increased so did resistance to EGFR-inhibitor drugs.

Lead researcher David Sidransky, M.D., and team, including Atul Bedi, M.D., David Berman, M.D., Ph.D., and Steven Goodman, M.D., Ph.D., say the beauty of the finding is its simplicity in transferring it to the clinic, noting that EGFR inhibitors could be targeted to patients with low levels of Mig 6. EGFR inhibitors are commonly prescribed for lung cancer patients whose tumors have EGFR mutations.  This new finding helps explain why patients’ responses have been so varied, ranging from no survival benefit to several years and provides the first reliable method for identifying patients most likely to benefit. Further tests of the Mig 6 marker in larger groups of patients are planned.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute grants P50 DE019032, U01 CA 084986, and R37DE012588 and the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

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