ROCHESTER, Minn. â€”Â Research by investigators at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center suggests that physicians should screen patients with lung cancer for MET amplification/overexpression before determining a treatment strategy. Their findings are published Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
â€œIn our research we found several lung cancer cases that were not responsive to standard chemotherapy,â€� says Zhenkun Lou, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at Mayo Clinic. â€œBecause these lung cancers were positive for PD-L1, a protein that allows some cells to escape attack by the immune system, we then tried treating these patients with anti-PD1 immunotherapy to relieve PD-L1 mediated immune suppression, however this treatment also failed.â€�
Dr. Lou and his colleagues then used cell line animal models and patient tissue samples to study why these lung cancers were not responding to treatment.
â€œWe discovered that in these particular cases, the cancer exhibited a MET oncogene amplification, which creates a hostile environment for immunotherapy,â€� says Dr. Lou. Abnormal MET activation has been implicated as an oncogenic driver in non-small-cell lung cancer.
After analyzing several independent medical databases, Dr. Lou and his colleagues confirmed that MET oncogene amplification should be a factor to be considered when designing lung cancer therapy. In addition, they showed that in animal models, a combination of a MET inhibitor with anti-PD1 immunotherapy was effective in treating cancers with MET amplification.
â€œOur study suggests that patients with a MET oncogene amplification will not respond to immunotherapy alone and will require treatment with a combination of a MET inhibitor together with immunotherapy,â€� says Dr. Lou. He cautions that this strategy will require confirmation in a prospective clinical trial before becoming a standard of care. In the meantime, Dr. Lou suggests that patients with lung cancer be screened for MET amplification/overexpression before determining an immunotherapy strategy.
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