Lung Cancer Treatment & Cure: Researchers Discover New Drug-Combo For Aggressive KRAS-driven Lung Cancer

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Feb 12, 2016 04:30 AM EST

BALTIMORE - AUGUST 15: Chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer patients are mixed in the pharmacy at the Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins August 15, 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland. Since its inception in 1973, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has been dedicated to better understanding human cancers and finding more effective treatments. (Photo : Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A new study discovered a new drug combination that has the potential to kill the most aggressive type of lung cancer.

According to MedicineNet.com, lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States and worldwide. Most lung cancer cases are due to cigarette smoking. Passive exposure to tobacco smoke can also trigger the condition.

In Spain, there are over 20,000 new cases of lung cancer every year. Lung adenocarcinomas carrying oncogenic KRAS is behind the tumors in 30 percent cases, EurekAlert reported. This constitutes the most aggressive sub-type because unlike other types of lung cancer, there are no targeted therapies beyond the standard cisplatin-based treatment.

To address the growing concern of lung cancer in Spain, researchers at the Spanish National Center Research Center did an experiment on how to stop the growth of the aggressive form of lung cancer in mice and human tumor samples, UPI  reported.

They learned that the drugs dasatinib and demcizumab were effective in controlling the growth of tumors in KRAS-driven lung cancer.

Among the challenges in the study of KRAS-driven lung cancer is their heterogeneity when they reached advanced stages. The tumor cells evolve and learn to adapt to their environment to grow and survive. They form sub-populations within the same tumor. Its heterogeneity nature explains why patients stop responding to some cancer treatments.

The team analyzed the gene signature of these tumors in large-scale gene analysis technique. "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, first author of the paper.

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

In both cases, the drug combo stopped the growth of the tumor at rates similar to the standard cisplatin-based chemotherapy.

"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 lead author also announced that after the completion of the preclinical studies they would have a clinical trial. "The next step in this research would be the clinical trials to validate the combination of these drugs as the first therapy directed against these aggressive tumors."

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