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Drug combination may treat most aggressive lung cancer

About 30 percent of lung cancer carries the mutated KRAS gene, which is more aggressive and lacks treatment aside from cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
By Stephen Feller   |   Feb. 11, 2016 at 4:00 PM

MADRID, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A combination of drugs stopped the growth of an aggressive form of lung cancer in mice and human tumor samples, researches in Spain found in a new study.

Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center found the drugs dasatinib and demcizumab stop the growth of tumors in KRAS-driven lung cancer.

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About 30 percent of lung cancer carries the mutated KRAS gene, which is more aggressive and lacks treatment aside from cisplatin-based chemotherapy.

Based on the presence of the DDR1 protein early in the formation of KRAS-driven tumors, researchers tried a combination of drugs -- combinations are said to prevent or lower the chance of relapse and increasing survival rates -- on tumor models in the lab.

"We discovered that these tumors display high levels of activity of the DDR1 gene, so we decided to validate its inhibition as a potential therapeutic strategy for this type of tumor," said Chiara Ambrogio, a researcher at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center, in a press release.

For the study, published in Nature Medicine, researchers tested the effects of combining the DDR1 protein-inhibiting drug dasatinib with demcizumab, a drug that blocks functionality of DDR1, first in human tumor samples and then on mice with human-like tumor grafts.

In both cases, the combination stopped growth or shrunk tumors at rates similar to standard cisplatin-based chemotherapy, the researchers reported.

"One of the advantages of the project is that the two drugs employed have already been approved by the regulatory agencies, which will significantly speed-up studies on human patients," Ambrogio said. "The next steps are clinical trials to validate the combination of these drugs as the first targeted therapy for the treatment of these tumors."

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