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      Activating Mutations in the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Underlying Responsiveness of Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer to Gefitinib

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          Abstract

          Most patients with non-small-cell lung cancer have no response to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib, which targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). However, about 10 percent of patients have a rapid and often dramatic clinical response. The molecular mechanisms underlying sensitivity to gefitinib are unknown. We searched for mutations in the EGFR gene in primary tumors from patients with non-small-cell lung cancer who had a response to gefitinib, those who did not have a response, and those who had not been exposed to gefitinib. The functional consequences of identified mutations were evaluated after the mutant proteins were expressed in cultured cells. Somatic mutations were identified in the tyrosine kinase domain of the EGFR gene in eight of nine patients with gefitinib-responsive lung cancer, as compared with none of the seven patients with no response (P<0.001). Mutations were either small, in-frame deletions or amino acid substitutions clustered around the ATP-binding pocket of the tyrosine kinase domain. Similar mutations were detected in tumors from 2 of 25 patients with primary non-small-cell lung cancer who had not been exposed to gefitinib (8 percent). All mutations were heterozygous, and identical mutations were observed in multiple patients, suggesting an additive specific gain of function. In vitro, EGFR mutants demonstrated enhanced tyrosine kinase activity in response to epidermal growth factor and increased sensitivity to inhibition by gefitinib. A subgroup of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer have specific mutations in the EGFR gene, which correlate with clinical responsiveness to the tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib. These mutations lead to increased growth factor signaling and confer susceptibility to the inhibitor. Screening for such mutations in lung cancers may identify patients who will have a response to gefitinib. Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society

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          Mutations of the BRAF gene in human cancer.

          Cancers arise owing to the accumulation of mutations in critical genes that alter normal programmes of cell proliferation, differentiation and death. As the first stage of a systematic genome-wide screen for these genes, we have prioritized for analysis signalling pathways in which at least one gene is mutated in human cancer. The RAS RAF MEK ERK MAP kinase pathway mediates cellular responses to growth signals. RAS is mutated to an oncogenic form in about 15% of human cancer. The three RAF genes code for cytoplasmic serine/threonine kinases that are regulated by binding RAS. Here we report BRAF somatic missense mutations in 66% of malignant melanomas and at lower frequency in a wide range of human cancers. All mutations are within the kinase domain, with a single substitution (V599E) accounting for 80%. Mutated BRAF proteins have elevated kinase activity and are transforming in NIH3T3 cells. Furthermore, RAS function is not required for the growth of cancer cell lines with the V599E mutation. As BRAF is a serine/threonine kinase that is commonly activated by somatic point mutation in human cancer, it may provide new therapeutic opportunities in malignant melanoma.
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            Comparison of four chemotherapy regimens for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.

            We conducted a randomized study to determine whether any of three chemotherapy regimens was superior to cisplatin and paclitaxel in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. A total of 1207 patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer were randomly assigned to a reference regimen of cisplatin and paclitaxel or to one of three experimental regimens: cisplatin and gemcitabine, cisplatin and docetaxel, or carboplatin and paclitaxel. The response rate for all 1155 eligible patients was 19 percent, with a median survival of 7.9 months (95 percent confidence interval, 7.3 to 8.5), a 1-year survival rate of 33 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 30 to 36 percent), and a 2-year survival rate of 11 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 8 to 12 percent). The response rate and survival did not differ significantly between patients assigned to receive cisplatin and paclitaxel and those assigned to receive any of the three experimental regimens. Treatment with cisplatin and gemcitabine was associated with a significantly longer time to the progression of disease than was treatment with cisplatin and paclitaxel but was more likely to cause grade 3, 4, or 5 renal toxicity (in 9 percent of patients, vs. 3 percent of those treated with cisplatin plus paclitaxel). Patients with a performance status of 2 had a significantly lower rate of survival than did those with a performance status of 0 or 1. None of four chemotherapy regimens offered a significant advantage over the others in the treatment of advanced non-small-cell lung cancer.
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              New Guidelines to Evaluate the Response to Treatment in Solid Tumors

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                New England Journal of Medicine
                N Engl J Med
                Massachusetts Medical Society
                0028-4793
                1533-4406
                May 20 2004
                May 20 2004
                : 350
                : 21
                : 2129-2139
                Article
                10.1056/NEJMoa040938
                15118073
                © 2004
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