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A new large study could help guide treatment for lung cancer with the use of biomarkers, which are molecules found in the body that can signal an abnormal process or disease.
Akinso: A new large study could help guide treatment for lung cancer with the use of biomarkers, which are molecules found in the body that can signal an abnormal process or disease. A National Cancer Institute study for non-small cell lung cancer was launched to validate whether a biomarker can predict clinical benefit in the treatment of this disease.
Dr. Ullmann: What we’re trying to determine is if this marker can also predict how the therapy can be effective or not based on the presence of that marker.
Akinso: Dr. Claudio Dansky-Ullmann is part of the Clinical Investigation Branch at the NCI.
Dr. Ullmann: You try to find a more direct reference in terms of what the patient has in his tumor or her tumor that you can target and the read out of that will allow you to say if the patient has this marker then that patient will benefit from that particular treatment that you’re trying to deliver.
Akinso: In this case, biomarkers would identify a target known as epidermal growth factor receptor which can be increased in some lung cancers. Dr. Ullmann explains the main objectives of the study.
Dr. Ullmann: One is to really see the role of the marker in trying to predict response to an agent that targets that particular marker. Then the other question is which way of measuring that marker is the one that is the most valid one. And then the other question is to compare in these patients with high or low activity of this marker if they would do better with a targeted therapy or they would do better or worst with the standard chemotherapeutic agent.
Akinso: Approximately 1,200 lung cancer patients will be tested for the status of the epidermal growth factor receptor, and then will be randomly assigned to treatment based on the test results. Dr. Ullmann is optimistic that this study can develop better therapies for lung cancer.
Dr. Ullmann: It would be very important to be able to pinpoint what a particular patient has in terms of these markers that may position that patient in a better way, to say well if you get this particular targeted therapy or agent you will do much better compared to receiving just nonspecific or standard therapy.
Akinso: Lung Cancer is expected to claim 161,480 lives in 2008, and 215,020 people are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year, making it the number one cancer killer. For more information on this trial visit, www.clinicaltrials.gov, and look up the MARVEL study. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.