New Targeted Gene Therapy Could Keep Lung Cancer from Progressing Thereby Extending and Improving Lives of Millions of Patients Worldwide

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In a clinical trial, 81 percent of lung cancer patients experience disease control, says expert from
American hospital Cleveland Clinic

Dr. Khaled Hassan, Hematology and Medical Oncology Department at Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland, Ohio: A newly targeted therapy could help millions of lung cancer patients worldwide keep their cancers from spreading, says an expert at a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic, ahead of World Lung Cancer Day on August 1.
Dr. Khaled Hassan, of the Hematology and Medical Oncology Department at Cleveland Clinic, said: “The KRAS mutation is a main gene that drives cancer, and lung cancer specifically, but previously it’s been difficult to target. With the new KRAS targeted therapy, 81 percent of cancer patients kept their cancer under control, which could extend and improve patients’ lives by about six months. One third of the patients had an objective response rate, of shrinking and/or totally eliminating cancer, even though previous chemotherapy failed to control their disease. We now have targeted therapies for eight cancer-driving genes, and patients are responding very well.”

In the clinical trial – of which Dr. Hassan was not a part – about four out of five (81 percent) patients achieved disease control, meaning the cancer disappeared, went into remission, or stayed the same. About one third of total patients (36 percent) achieved an objective response rate, meaning the cancer shrunk or disappeared completely.

Worldwide, lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer, with 2.21 million new cases in 2020, and the leading cause of cancer death, at 1.8 million deaths in 2020, according to the World Health Organization.

The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of a new targeted therapy for cancer tumors with the KRAS G12C mutation. The KRAS mutation accounts for approximately 25 percent of mutations in non-small cell lung cancers, and the G12C mutation represents about 13 percent of mutations in non-small cell lung cancers.

“Targeted therapies are designed to be very selective to bind to the pathways of specific gene mutations, and can get rid of most of the toxicities in the cancer cells with only minor side effects,” added Dr. Hassan, who said that Cleveland Clinic is already prescribing the treatment to patients. “For the remaining patients who did not respond to this targeted therapy, we need to figure out how to develop drugs that can target the genes’ pathway to resistance.”

However, Dr. Hassan cautioned that this KRAS targeted therapy is not a cure, as eventually the cancer cells can find a way around the treatment and develop resistance.

Dr. Hassan concluded: “As we mark World Lung Cancer Day, the two most important points are for patients to stop smoking, which can cause cancer and other diseases, and for those who are high risk to get early, safe low-dose CT scan screenings. The highest risk patients are 50 years or older, and have smoked at least one pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years.”

About Cleveland Clinic:

Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 70,800 employees worldwide are more than 4,660 salaried physicians and researchers, and 18,500 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,500-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2020, there were 8.7 million total outpatient visits, 273,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 217,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries