At her doctor’s suggestion, she joined a clinical trial of two immunotherapy drugs that stimulated her immune system to recognize and fight off the cancer. But the drugs produced unpleasant side effects, and eventually stopped working.
“I worried I might be running out of options,” she says.
Tumor profiling uncovers genetic mutation for targeted therapy
It was time to try something different.
Julia’s doctor took a sample of her tumor tissue and sent it to a lab for genetic testing – a procedure known as tumor profiling. The results showed her cancer was caused by a mutation in the KRAS gene. A healthy KRAS gene prevents cells from growing out of control and causing cancer. But Julia’s mutation, named G12C, makes it impossible for the KRAS gene to do its job.
“It may sound counterintuitive,” Julia says, “but discovering I had this mutation was good news.”
The mutation meant she was eligible to enroll in a clinical trial at MD Anderson, where a targeted therapy drug named AMG-510, or sotorasib, is being tested in patients with G12C-induced cancers like Julia’s. The drug is designed to “home in” on and “target” the mutation, and permanently lock it into an inactive state.
Clinical trials offer new hope
Since starting the clinical trial a year ago, Julia has seen her tumors shrink, then stop growing.
“I’m thrilled this is working, after so many other therapies didn’t,” she says. “And I’m amazed that I’ve had zero side effects.”
She’s grateful her doctor referred her to MD Anderson’s clinical trial, led by David Hong, M.D.
“That’s the wonderful thing about clinical trials,” she says. “When other treatments fail, a clinical trial can offer new hope.”
Today, she’s back to gardening and taking long, leisurely walks through her hometown in the Ozark Mountains of north-central Arkansas.
“I feel great,” she says. “My energy is back, and I find joy in things I used to take for granted. Some days I forget I have cancer.”