Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Molecular Marker Predicts Patients Most Likely to Benefit Longest From Two Popular Cancer Drugs

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Preliminary study needs further confirmation.

Johns Hopkins scientists have identified a molecular marker called “Mig 6” that appears to accurately predict longer survival -- up to two years -- among patients prescribed two of the most widely used drugs in a class of anticancer agents called EGFR inhibitors.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva), are prescribed for lung and pancreatic cancer patients but only a few who have mutations in the EGFR gene usually benefit with a prolonged reduction of tumor size. The two drugs block the gene’s ramped-up protein production, but patients’ response to the drug varies widely – from no survival benefit to several years. The average is several months.
“Clinicians have had no reliable method for distinguishing patients who are not likely to respond to EGFR inhibitors and those who will respond very well,” says David Sidransky, M.D., professor of otolaryngology, oncology, pathology, urology, and genetics at Johns Hopkins. Looking at the precise level of protein production from the EGFR gene alone in specific patients was not proven to be a good indicator of patients’ response to EGFR-blocking drugs, but the presence or absence of Mig 6 might be, he adds.
In a preliminary study, described July 31 in the online journal, PLoS ONE, the Johns Hopkins scientists found the genetic marker in a series of experiments that began with laboratory-derived lung and head and neck cancer cell lines resistant to EGFR-inhibitor drugs. In the cell lines, the team found very high levels of protein production from the Mig 6 gene -- up to three times the level in sensitive cell lines. Mig 6 is one of the molecules that controls the activity of the EGFR protein.
“In the first set of experiments, we found that higher levels of Mig 6 occur often in cells that don’t respond to EGFR inhibitors,” says Sidransky. “Most tumors are known to have high Mig 6 levels and are not expected to respond to EGFR inhibitors.”
Next, the research team studied Mig 6 levels in a variety of tumors that were directly engrafted into mice, a research model known as a xenograft, and treated with an EGFR inhibitor. These new models contain a more complete sampling of the tumor that includes “stromal” cells, which surround and interact with the cancer cells. “These tumors are implanted along with their own microenvironment, into the mice, and we believe this model may be more predictive of what happens in human patients,” says Sidransky.
In the xenografts of tumors without EGFR mutations, as Mig 6 levels increased, so did the resistance to EGFR inhibitors, suggesting a correlation between high Mig 6 and lack of response to the drugs. To confirm the correlation, the scientists tested tissue samples of 65 lung cancer patients treated with EGFR inhibitors to compare their Mig 6 levels with outcomes.
Of 18 patients with low Mig 6 levels, five of them survived more than a year without progression of their cancer; four survived more than two years progression-free. Among 16 patients with higher Mig 6 levels, two survived more than one year and none survived, progression-free, beyond two years.
“The beauty of this finding is that it’s simple. We’re looking for tumors with low levels of Mig 6 to predict clinical benefit, and there aren’t many of them,” says Sidransky.
Sidransky’s team expects to license the Mig 6 marker to a biotechnology or pharmaceutical company and conduct further tests in larger groups of patients.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

A Simple Blood Test May Catch Early Pancreatic Cancer
Currently, disease usually found too late to save lives.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Enzyme-Activating Antibodies Revealed As Marker for Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis
Finding could lead to earlier diagnosis and new, more aggressive treatment for worst cases.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Measuring microRNAs in Blood to Speed Cancer Detection
A simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.
Potential Persistent Tuberculosis Treatment
Researchers have discovered several first-in-class compounds that target hidden TB infections by attacking a critical process the bacteria use to survive in the hostile environment of the lungs.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
The Do’s and Don’ts of SPR Experiments
Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) is a technique that is becoming more widely used, particularly by anyone who wants to obtain accurate on (association) and off (dissociation) rates for biomolecular binding.
Long-Sought Protein Sensor for the ‘Sixth Sense’ Discovered
In a study led by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI)the sensor protein for propioception has been identified.
New Anti-Malarial Drug Screening Model
University of South Florida researchers demonstrate novel chemogenomic profiling to identify drug targets for the most lethal strain of malaria.
Shedding Light on “Dark” Cellular Receptors
UNC and UCSF labs create a new research tool to find homes for two orphan cell-surface receptors, a crucial step toward finding better therapeutics and causes of drug side effects.
New, Better Test for Prostate Cancer
A study from Karolinska Institutet shows that a new test for prostate cancer is better at detecting aggressive cancer than PSA.
Giant Molecules Inhibit Ebola Infection
European researchers have designed a "giant" molecule formed by thirteen fullerenes covered by carbohydrates which, by blocking this receptor, are able to inhibit the cell infection by an artificial ebola virus model.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos