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Clinical researchers from the Thoracic Tumors Group and the Cancer Genomics Group, both at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), have identified one of the main resistance mechanisms to a new drug for advanced lung cancer currently in the clinical phase.

The study, conducted with researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston), has been published in the journal Nature Medicine and the results will be key to advancing the development of drugs targeting this disease, because resistance is one of the great limitations of treatments for lung cancer, the most common around the world.

Since molecular alterations were discovered that allowed for the creation of drugs that target lung cancer much more specifically –inhibiting the mutation of the EGFR protein– research has shown that, after some time of using these drugs, patient's bodies build up a tolerance produced by new acquired mutations.

Researchers at the VHIO and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are doing clinical trials with a drug that attacks some of these mutations (it inhibits acquired resistance mutations for EGFR but not non-mutated EGFR). Head of the Thoracic Tumors research group Dr. Enriqueta Felip explains that the drug being studied is showing good response rates, with periods of up to 10 months without any progression of the cancer.

The study published recently references a new mutation identified (a mechanism) that will allow them to better understand the path of the drug. "With this information, we will not only know what mutation were talking about, but also what is happening and the mechanism that makes the patient stop responding to the drug," explains head of the Cancer Genomics group Dr. Ana Vivancos. “This work is essential to paving the way for the next targeted drug," concludes Vivancos.


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