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How Targeted Therapy Shrinks Tumors in Patients with Non-small-cell Lung Cancer

Selpercatinib is a drug used to treat cancer caused by alteration or mutation in the gene RET. After a study by a team of researchers from various nations, the drug has been approved to treat non-small-cell lung cancer. Researchers worked with patients who had not received any anti-cancer treatment and those who were at an advanced stage with the disease. The drug led to positive outcomes.

The clinical trials took place in 65 leading cancer centers located in 12 countries. In Singapore, the Experimental Cancer Therapeutics Unit led in the trials.

The approved treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer is a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.

Eighty percent of lung cancer patients have non-small-cell lung cancer. The cancer mostly affects people who have never smoked. It is also more prevalent among women than men. Patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer have a survival rate of one year.

The US FDA approved the drug for:

  1. Adults and children who are twelve years old and above, with metastatic or advanced RET, mutated medullary thyroid cancer in need of systematic therapy
  2. Patient twelve years old and above with metastatic or advanced RET-fusion positive thyroid cancer that is resistant to radioactive iodine but in need of systematic therapy
  3. Adults diagnosed with metastatic RET-driven NSCLC (non-small-cell lung cancer)

Phase 1-2 results lead to the approval of the drug.

Daniel Tan, a Clinical Associate Professor, Deputy Head of the Division of Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Sciences at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, Senior consultant of medical oncology, and a co-first author of the research said, “The trial showed the targeted therapy to have good efficacy, strong, sustained response rates and fewer side effects. It has also demonstrated the importance of molecular profiling, and National Cancer Centre Singapore has implemented routine testing of the gene RET for all lung cancer patients, to enable this group of patients to benefit from the targeted treatment.”

Some of the side effects of selpercatinib include increased enzyme level, high blood pressure, low number of white blood cells, and decreased sodium level. However, the effects are manageable. 

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