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Research briefs

Network - Summer 2013

MET protein levels show promise as biomarker for aggressive colon cancer


MET protein levels correlate strongly with 
epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype, a treatment-resistant type of colorectal cancer. These levels may be used as a surrogate biomarker, according to new 
MD Anderson research.

The study results, which compared MET protein expression with protein/gene expression of EMT markers and evaluated impact on survival, were released in June at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
.
The study provides another piece of the puzzle of personalized cancer diagnosis and treatment. This approach will be applied to other colorectal cancer subtypes, with the hope of defining other simple and readily available biomarkers.

“If we can identify and group cancers with similar behaviors, we’ll be closer to identifying vulnerabilities and optimal therapies for each subset,” says Scott Kopetz, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and senior author on the study.

Ibrutinib has ‘unprecedented’ impact on mantle cell lymphoma

In a major international study led by MD Anderson researchers, the targeted therapy ibrutinib continues to show remarkable promise for treating relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

The most recent interim findings of the 18-center Phase II study were published in June in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The ongoing trial of oral ibrutinib in patients with heavily treated relapsed or refractory MCL has maintained a response rate as high as 70% — better than any other single agent ever tested in the challenging disease — with milder side effects than other treatments.

MCL is a rare and aggressive B-cell subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, accounts for 6% of non-Hodgkin cases. Despite high response rates to initial highly toxic combination-drug chemotherapy, patients often relapse.

The B-cell receptor pathway is critical in B-cell lymphoma, and Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) is an essential component of this pathway. Ibrutinib targets the BTK molecule, causing cell death and decreasing cellular migration and adhesion in malignant B-cells.

“This oral inhibitor of the Bruton’s tyrosine kinase in the B-cell receptor pathway is the most important breakthrough to date in the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma,” says Michael Wang, M.D., associate professor in Lymphoma and Myeloma and Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. Wang is lead author on the trial.

“Ibrutinib is an oral drug, taken once a day, and its side effects are not severe. Yet it can achieve more than previous combination chemotherapy approaches. Our results constitute excellent news for our patients and patients around the 
world,” he says.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center