Promising cancer treatment targets rare genetic flaw

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CHICAGO: An experimental cancer medicine called larotrectinib has shown promise treating a diverse range of cancers in people young and old, researchers said at a major cancer conference in the United States.

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The treatment targets a genetic abnormality which is often found in rare cancers — including salivary gland cancer, juvenile breast cancer, and a soft tissue cancer known as infantile fibrosarcoma — which are particularly difficult to treat.

This abnormality also occurs in about 0.5 percent to one percent of many common cancers.

In the study released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference, 76 percent of cancer patients — both children and adults with 17 different kinds of cancer — responded well to the medicine.

A total of 79 percent were alive after one year. The study is ongoing.

Twelve percent went into complete remission from their cancer.

The clinical trial included 55 patients — 43 adults and 12 children. All had advanced cancers in various organs, including the colon, pancreas and lung, as well as melanoma.

“These findings embody the original promise of precision oncology: treating a patient based on the type of mutation, regardless of where the cancer originated,” said lead study author David Hyman, chief of early drug development at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

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