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New target identified for squamous cell lung cancer

Scientists at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute have identified a mutation in the DDR2 gene that may indicate which patients with squamous cell lung cancer will respond to dasatinib.

The findings are published in Cancer Discovery, the newest journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, debuting here at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, from April 2-6.

According to lead researcher Matthew Meyerson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, there are currently no targeted therapies for squamous cell lung cancer, which affects approximately 50,000 people annually in the United States. Meyerson estimates that DDR2 mutations would be present in lung cancers from about one to two thousand people a year in the United States.

"As a percentage of the millions of people who get cancer each year it is small, but cancer therapy is going more in the direction of personalized medicine as we learn more and more about the complicated biology of each tumor," he said.

Using standard genetic sequencing techniques, Meyerson and colleagues identified mutations in the DDR2 kinase gene in about 3 percent of squamous cell lung cancers and cell lines. Furthermore, they found that tumor cells with these DDR2 mutations responded to treatment with dasatinib. A patient whose cancer carried a DDR2 mutation also showed a clinical response to dasatinib.

"Dasatinib is an existing therapy for chronic myelogenous leukemia with a long history and a strong safety profile," said Meyerson. "The results of this study clearly encourage a clinical trial to test dasatinib in the setting of squamous cell lung cancer."

This research will be presented during an American Association for Cancer Research press conference at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 3 in room W313 of the Orange County Convention Center. Reporters who cannot attend in person can participate using the following information:

U.S. & Canada: (888) 647-7462
International: (201) 604-0169
Access Code: 244088
Press registration for the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011 is free to qualified journalists and public information officers:
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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.

Jeremy Moore | EurekAlert!
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