Promising Target Identified for Lung Cancer Chemotherapy

Gene activity in lung tumors offers the potential to respond to chemotherapy.

The activity of a gene found in lung tumors shows the potential to respond positively to a chemotherapy regimen that uses the drug cisplatin.

Researchers from Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center studied a gene called SMARCA4/BRG1. When there was a low expression of SMARCA4, it lead to a poor prognosis, according to data from the 440-patient Director's Challenge Lung Study.

However, this gene was also found to have a high sensitivity to cisplatin.

“Our study suggests that SMARCA4, a gene that is commonly mutated in NSCLC, might identify patients who will benefit from cisplatin and other platinum-based drugs,” said first author Erica Hlavin Bell, PhD.

Lung cancer is considered the most common form of the disease worldwide and has killed approximately 1.6 million people this year alone.

“Lung cancer is such a deadly disease because the majority of the cases are detected at advanced stages and because most patients harbor tumors that do not have targetable mutations,” Bell said. “This leaves chemotherapy as the only therapeutic option after surgery, but there are few biomarkers to indicate which agents will benefit a particular patient.

“We found that patients with earlier-stage NSCLC whose tumors show low expression of SMARCA4 will likely see a large benefit from cisplatin-based chemotherapy compared to patients with high expression of the gene.”

During the study, researchers looked at patient specimens from the randomized JBR.10 phase 3 trial that included an untreated control group (NCT00002583).

The results of the study published in Clinical Cancer Research showed that even patients who are older than 65 years with early-stage NSCLC with low expression of SMARCA4 could potentially benefit from platinum based chemotherapies, based on the overall survival advantage in the JBR.10 trial.

“Overall, the findings from this study might help us individualize chemotherapy treatment options in lung cancer patients after surgery,” Bell said.