A cure for cancer is something the whole world can agree on. No matter what their differences, everyone wants a cure for cancer. A new cancer drug known as BLU-667 has moved through phase I of human trials and shows promising results. The drug is taken orally and targets RET-driven cancers. These include types of thyroid and lung cancers, which are normally hard to treat.
RET is a type of receptor tyrosine kinase. Mutations that kick its activity into overdrive are linked to certain kinds of cancer. RET has a role in almost 50% of medullary thyroid cancers, 20% of papillary thyroid cancers, and 2 % of non-small cell lung cancers.
“There is a critical un-met need for effective drugs against cancers that have the RET alteration, as there are no highly potent inhibitors currently approved specifically for these RET-driven cancers,” says Vivek Subbiah, lead researcher on the study. “The current treatments for these cancers are limited to traditional chemotherapy and earlier generations of multiple kinase inhibitors. These options have had limited success with often considerable side effects that significantly impact the patient’s quality of life.”
The drug BLU-667 works by inhibiting the activity of RET. It was found to be 100 times more selective for RET, that is why it was chosen for further study. It should not affect the functions of other kinases. It has also shown that it can prevent genetic mutations that would allow the body to resist this kind of treatment.
The team studied 43 patients with advanced tumors for the trial. The tumors could not be operated on. They also studied 26 patients with medullary thyroid cancer, 15 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and two other RET related cancers. The results of the trial have been promising so far and BLU-667 has been found to be effective.
“Tumor reductions and durable responses were observed in most patients, especially those patients whose cancer progressed with chemotherapy and multi-kinase inhibitors,” says Subbiah. “Our study reported an overall response rate of 37 percent for RET-driven cancers, with responses of 45 percent for non-small cell lung cancer and 32 percent for medullary thyroid.”
If the results continue to show promise, we might actually have a cure on our hands and it will no doubt save millions of lives.