Ground breaking research leading to breakthroughs in cancer treatments - Timothy A. McCarthy, MD

Virginia Cancer Specialists Practice Blog

July 11, 2022
Virginia Cancer Specialists » VCS Practice News » Physicians » VCS Practice News » Alex Spira MD PhD FACP » Ground breaking research leading to breakthroughs in cancer treatments – Timothy A. McCarthy, MD

VCS continues to be involved in ground breaking research that is leading to breakthroughs in cancer treatments.

In the field of oncology, we are learning more about the specific mutations, or drivers of what may be causing a person’s cancer. There has been strong interest in developing therapies that target these specific mutations, as they may be more effective, less toxic or longer acting than traditional chemotherapy.

An example of one of these potential targets are mutations in the gene KRAS. KRAS is the most frequently mutated oncogene, or a gene that has the potential to cause cancer in humans, with up to 25% of non-small cell lung cancers having a mutation in KRAS.  The specific KRAS G12C mutation may be present in up to 14% of lung adenocarcinoma and 0.5- 4% of lung squamous cell carcinoma. It may also be seen in other cancers, like colorectal (3-4%) and biliary and pancreatic (1-2%)

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently had their annual meeting.  At the meeting, Alexander I. Spira, MD, PhD, FACP, co-director of Virginia Cancer Specialists Research Institute, director of the Thoracic and Phase I Program, and clinical assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, presented data in the use of a new medication targeting KRAS G12C mutations, Adagrasib. This data was from the KRYSTAL-1 phase 1–2 study with data current as of October 15, 2021, from the registrational phase 2 cohort A study, which was simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Adagrasib is an oral medication, that potently targets the KRAS G12C mutation.  Patients eligible for the study had advanced or metastatic NSCLC with a KRAS G12C mutation and had already had treatment with at least one platinum-containing chemotherapy regimen and checkpoint inhibitor, also called immunotherapy.

Although there have been advancements in treating lung cancer, it has long been thought that KRAS mutations where not a viable target for treatment. Treatment with adagrasib led to a confirmed objective response rate of 42.9%, with a median duration of response of 8.5 months. Additionally, a median progression-free survival of 6.5 months, and a median overall survival of 12.6 months in patients with advanced KRASG12C-mutated NSCLC. This is a significant step forward in the treatment of patients with this type of advanced cancer compared to currently available standard treatment options.

Adagrasib continues to be tested alone and in combination with other therapies in Lung and other clinical trials. Here at Virginia Cancer Specialists we continue to be on the leading edge of such clinical trials and provide access to the most advanced treatment options to continue to give patient’s the personalized medicine and individualized care that will hopefully lead to better outcomes for all.