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Combination of Molecularly Targeted Therapies

Combination of Molecularly Targeted Therapies

A combination of two targeted therapies already shown to be effective in breast cancer packs an effective one-two punch against a subset of gastric cancers that have a specific genetic mutation, a study at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has found.

The drugs trastuzumab (Herceptin) and lapatinib (Tykerb) when given together proved to significantly inhibit tumor growth in gastric cancers that had amplified levels of HER2. The work was done both on cell lines and in animal models with human HER2-amplified gastric cancers.

Between 18% and 27% of gastric cancers exhibit HER2 amplification, so the finding—if confirmed in humans—could provide a new, more effective and less toxic treatment option for tens of thousands of patients diagnosed every year worldwide with gastric cancers that carry the mutation, said Dr. Zev Wainberg, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and first author of the study.

“This study adds further support to the concept that if you target a specific gene in gastric cancer, a more tailored treatment approach can be considered,” said Wainberg, an assistant professor of hematology/oncology. “This study also provides further proof to what we already know—that is, that gastric cancer is ripe for the development of targeted therapies.”

The study appeared in the March 1, 2010, issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

 
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