The report, published in the April 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, describes the case of a 79-year-old woman with melanoma tumors in several parts of her abdomen. When lab tests showed the tumor cells carried an abnormality in a gene called KIT, the patient enrolled in a clinical trial involving Gleevec (R) (Imatinib), a drug known to target that gene.
Four weeks after beginning therapy, imaging exams showed a dramatic reduction in tumor size and metabolism: two of the tumor masses had disappeared and several others had shrunken considerably. Four months later, the tumors were still in check, and today, nine months after the start of therapy, she continues to take the drug and her condition remains stable.
"This is the first proof of principle that we can find an Achilles' heel in melanoma" -- a gene critical to tumor cell growth and proliferation -- "and, by targeting that gene with a drug, cause the cell to die," says the study's lead author, Stephen Hodi, MD, of Dana-Farber. "It is especially exciting because there haven't been any effective treatments for melanoma patients with metastatic disease."
Although the report involves just one patient, it should inject new confidence in the fight against melanoma, Hodi says. Because previous research has failed to find any genetic Achilles' heels capable of shutting down melanoma cell growth, some researchers had speculated that none may exist for such cells. The discovery of one suggests there may be others.
KIT mutations are found in only a small percentage of melanomas, so Imatinib does not represent a universal treatment for the disease, Hodi explains. Recent studies have found KIT mutations in 11 percent of acral melanomas (which arise in skin without hair follicles, such as that of the palms, foot soles, and nail beds, and account for 5 percent of all melanomas), 21 percent of mucosal melanomas (which arise in the mucous membranes of some organs), and 17 percent of melanomas arising in chronically sun-damaged skin. For patients with these conditions, particularly those who carry a mutation in a particular section of the gene, Imatinib may well prove beneficial.
Imatinib's effectiveness against tumors with KIT mutations was first demonstrated in gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), a relatively rare malignancy of the digestive tract. An estimated 75-80 percent of GISTs have KIT mutations, and Imatinib has caused such tumors to stabilize or retreat in 75-90 percent of patients receiving it. In most of these patients, however, tumors eventually begin growing again as they become resistant to the drug.
The KIT mutation in the patient described in the study involved a protein-coding section of the gene where DNA was duplicated. This section, known as the "juxtamembrane domain," is the most frequent site of mutation in GIST, and is associated with a strong tumor response to Imatinib.
"Dramatic remissions in metastatic melanoma are something that, as physicians, we've rarely seen," Hodi remarks. "Confirming these results will require enrolling additional patients in clinical trials -- something we're actively working to accomplish."
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For the first time, physicists at the University of Basel have succeeded in measuring the magnetic properties of atomically thin van der Waals materials on the nanoscale. They used diamond quantum sensors to determine the strength of the magnetization of individual atomic layers of the material chromium triiodide. In addition, they found a long-sought explanation for the unusual magnetic properties of the material. The journal Science has published the findings.
The use of atomically thin, two-dimensional van der Waals materials promises innovations in numerous fields in science and technology. Scientists around the...
Flexible, organic and printed electronics conquer everyday life. The forecasts for growth promise increasing markets and opportunities for the industry. In Europe, top institutions and companies are engaged in research and further development of these technologies for tomorrow's markets and applications. However, access by SMEs is difficult. The European project SmartEEs - Smart Emerging Electronics Servicing works on the establishment of a European innovation network, which supports both the access to competences as well as the support of the enterprises with the assumption of innovations and the progress up to the commercialization.
It surrounds us and almost unconsciously accompanies us through everyday life - printed electronics. It starts with smart labels or RFID tags in clothing, we...
The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.
Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.
Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.
Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
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