A new cancer drug known as cancer drug has moved through phase I human trials, and the results are promising. Taken orally, the drug targets what are known as RET-driven cancers, including types of thyroid and lung cancers, which are normally hard to treat.
RET is a type of receptor tyrosine kinase, and mutations that kick its activity into overdrive are linked to certain kinds of cancer. Among others, RET plays a role in around 50 percent of medullary thyroid cancers, 20 percent of papillary thyroid cancers, and up to two percent of non-small cell lung cancers. These can be treated with conventional methods, although so far success hasn’t been stellar.
“There is a critical un-met need for effective drugs against cancers that have the RET alteration, as there are no highly potent inhibitors currently approved specifically for these RET-driven cancers,” says Vivek Subbiah, lead researcher on the study. “The current treatments for these cancers are limited to traditional chemotherapy and earlier generations of multiple kinase inhibitors. These options have had limited success with often considerable side effects that significantly impact the patient’s quality of life.”