Clinical data reported in New England Journal of Medicine
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Cancer Institute is one of several sites nationwide that participated in a groundbreaking clinical research study of a novel drug proven very effective in the treatment of pediatric and adult cancers that carry a specific genetic mutation.
Larotrectinib, developed by biopharmaceutical company Loxo Oncology, was tested in three clinical research studies at cancer centers nationwide. Patients ranged in age from four months to 76 years and had a total of 12 different tumor types, including common and rare cancers, but all had the genetic mutation in the NTRK gene in common.
Seventy-five to 80 percent of the 55 adult and pediatric patients treated with larotrectinib experienced significant tumor reductions with only mild side effects, regardless of patients’ age and specific tumor types. One patient with infantile fibrosarcoma responded so well to the test drug that limb amputation surgery was no longer necessary as part of the child’s treatment plan.
“This study demonstrated the principle of genomically targeted therapy and represents a possible paradigm change in treatment for these patients,” Patrick Ma, M.D., principal investigator of the WVU Cancer Institute study, said. “Larotrectnib works by seeking out the NTRK cancer gene that is activated by a form of gene fusion in these cancers and prevents its ability to promote cancer growth.”
Patients enrolled in the study had TRK fusion cancers caused by NTRK gene mutations that were detected through molecular profiling, a technology that allows clinicians to determine the genomic make-up and origin of cancer and its specific drug responsiveness to inform cancer treatment.
“Importantly, TRK fusion cancers occur in less than one percent of cancers but can be found in more than 20 cancer types,” Dr. Ma said. “Identifying these unique, genomically altered orphan cancers becomes crucially important with highly effective targeted therapy available that can make a real difference in treatment outcomes. With the help of comprehensive molecular profiling, we not only can identify and match patients to optimal therapies, but can also better understand changes in tumor cells throughout treatment and offer patients more personalized therapy.”
Ma is director of the Clinical Lung Cancer Program and co-leader of the Sara Crile Allen and James Frederick Allen Lung Cancer Program at the WVU Cancer Institute. He is co-author of the article "Efficacy of larotrectinib in TRK fusion-positive adult and pediatric cancers," which was published in the Feb. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
WVU Medicine Physician Presents at International Society of Intraoperative Radiation Therapy Conference
Christopher P. Cifarelli, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the WVU Medicine Gamma Knife program and member of the WVU Cancer Institute Research Programs, presented a talk on his team’s research during the 2018 ISIORT conference in Mannheim, Germany. Dr. Cifarelli presented two sessions: Feasibility of Dose Escalation Using Intraoperative Radiotherapy Following Resection of Large Brain Metastases Compared to Post-operative SRS and Neurosurgical Nuances of IORT for Intracranial Lesions. The work focuses on a novel use of radiation delivered to the brain at the time of surgery as a means to decrease long-term radiation doses and improve overall outcomes for patients with metastatic and primary brain tumors. The conference had about 300 specialists from over 20 nations in attendance. Dr. Cifarelli is a faculty member in the WVU Department of Neurosurgery and a member of the Radiation Oncology team at WVU Cancer Institute. This work was co-authored by Joshua Hack MS, Geraldine M. Jacobson MD, and J. Austin Vargo MD.
A free continuing education event for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and other healthcare providers interested in breast cancer care.
The tobacco cessation treatment training program at WVU urges collaboration in helping patients kick the tobacco habit and decrease health risks associated with tobacco use.