Researchers found that patients with the signature showed increased survival time from treatment with gefitinib or erlotinib.

A multicenter team discovered a signature of proteins in the blood that predicts which non-small-cell lung cancer patients will live longer when they are treated with certain targeted cancer therapies. The findings could help decide which lung cancer patients to treat with EGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI).

Investigators at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the University of Colorado, and Biodesix set out to determine if a protein profile in the peripheral blood could predict clinical benefit, measured in terms of patient survival, to EGF receptor TKIs.

Using mass spectrometry, the researchers analyzed pretreatment blood samples from 139 patients who had been treated with gefitinib, identified a pattern of eight proteins that was correlated with survival, and developed a prediction algorithm.

They then tested the algorithm in two additional groups of patients, 67 gefitinib-treated patients and 96 erlotinib-treated patients. The method was highly successful in predicting a survival benefit. In the gefitinib-treated group, patients classified as “good” had a median survival of 207 days whereas those classified as “poor” had a median survival of 92 days. In the erlotinib-treated group, median survivals for “good” and “poor” groups were 306 and 107 days, respectively.

The method did not predict a survival benefit in three different control groups of patients treated with either chemotherapy or surgery alone.

The research is published in the June 6 issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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