Studies Report Advances in Developmental Therapeutics

For Immediate Release
June 4, 2011

Kelly Powell Baldwin

CHICAGO – Studies describing new progress in the development of improved therapies and treatment approaches against advanced cancers were released today at a press briefing at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

“The research presented here today represents some of the latest developments in therapies focused on the molecular biology of some extremely difficult-to-treat diseases, such as metastatic melanoma and myelofibrosis,” said Sonali Smith, MD, news briefing moderator and associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “At the same time, we’re also seeing a molecular approach in some innovative strategies aimed at better evaluating patients and predicting outcomes.

Studies highlighted in the press briefing include:

• New Lung Cancer Consortium Identifying Tumor “Driver” Mutations in Advanced Cancer Improve Treatment Choice: In a prospective study, the 14-member Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium (LCMC) has identified at least one of 10 recognized “driver” mutations in tumors in nearly two-thirds of patients with advanced lung cancer. Investigators suggest that the LCMC program is an important model for care and research, showing that patients’ tumors may be analyzed for mutations at diagnosis in a systematic way.

• Promising Study Shows Prostate Cancer Circulating Tumor Cells Could Be Used as Surrogate for Survival, Speeding Drug Testing and Approvals: An analysis of a prospective, randomized Phase III trial showing the effectiveness of a drug in extending overall survival in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) also has found that the level of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) – cancer cells that have broken off from the tumor and into the bloodstream – correlated with survival. These initial results and subsequent follow-up studies could ultimately provide evidence supporting the use of CTCs as a biomarker for survival in this type of metastatic prostate cancer.

• Combining Oral Targeted Therapies Shows Early Anti-Tumor Activity for Advanced Melanoma: A Phase I trial showed that a combination of two oral targeted therapies – the oral MEK inhibitor GSK212 and the oral BRAF inhibitor GSK436 – was safe and had preliminary anti-tumor activity in patients with advanced melanoma. The trial results are potentially important because they show promising synergistic anti-cancer activity for two oral targeted therapies for advanced melanoma.

• JAK Inhibitor Improves Response Rate for Patients With High-Risk Myelofibrosis: A randomized Phase III European trial showed that the Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor ruxolitinib resulted in dramatically improved response rates in treating three forms of myelofibrosis (MF), a potentially deadly bone marrow disorder that frequently leads to leukemia. The trial – dubbed COMFORT II – and a companion Phase III study (COMFORT I) – are the first randomized drug trials for MF.

For consumer-oriented information on these studies and more than 120 cancer types, please refer your readers to ASCO’s patient website, www.Cancer.Net.

Relevant Links on ASCO’s Cancer.Net:


ASCO is the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. For ASCO information and resources, visit Patient-oriented cancer information is available at