CSN Login
Members Online: 1

You are here

Crizotinib - must have EML4-ALK gene, nearly 10,000 would have the EML4-ALK gene out of 220,000 dx

HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 730
Joined: Dec 2009


The drug Crizotinib (PF0234-1066) was shown to shrink or stabilize tumors in about 90% of the patients who took it. Dr. Yue-Jue Bang of Seoul National University presented these results at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago last week. Crizotinib works by inhibiting a genetic mutation, EML4-ALK, that is found in lung cancer cells. Roughly 4% of all lung cancer patients have this gene in their tumors and would be likely to benefit from Crizotinib. Pfizer sponsored the research, is proceeding with phase III trials, and is likely to seek FDA approval as early as next year (Reuters). As the EML4-ALK gene was only recently identified in 2007, the work with Crizotinib shows how quickly genetic technologies may be parlayed into powerful and accessible medical therapies.

Lung cancer is one of the biggest killers in the industrialized world. According to the National Cancer Institute, almost 220,000 new cases of lung cancer occur every year in the United States alone. Of these, nearly 10,000 would have the EML4-ALK gene, making them ready targets for the Crizotinib drug. That may seem like a small fraction…and it is. Luckily, Crizotinib isn’t alone. Tarceva (from Genentech) and Iressa (from Astra Zeneca) work in a similar fashion by targeting different mutated genes in tumors. With each new gene identified we can presumably develop another drug to target it, tightening the net until the majority of lung cancers have highly effective therapies. This is a sign that large genetic studies are going to pay big dividends in the years ahead.

Dr. Bang’s Crizotinib trials focused on 82 patients with advanced lung cancer, the majority of whom had already tried a cancer treatment (i.e. chemotherapy) with minimal positive results. As such, Bang expected only about 10% to respond well to Crizotinib. 90%, however, saw some benefits from taking Crizotinib orally, 57% saw significant improvements, and a few had their tumors disappear altogether. You can see Dr. Bang’s presentation at the ASCO press conference in a video on their site (direct link here).

stayingcalm's picture
Posts: 654
Joined: Feb 2007

There are some people at Inspire who are on it - a very long thread, which continues on into another thread (Inspire routinely closes older threads, even if they're still getting responses): starts here. Lots of good info!

Subscribe to Comments for "Crizotinib - must have EML4-ALK gene, nearly 10,000 would have the EML4-ALK gene out of 220,000 dx"