Targeted Therapy for Cancer is treatment that uses drugs. It is different from traditional chemotherapy. Learn 5 interesting things about Targeted Therapy.
1 Standard therapy
Most people with a specific type and stage of cancer receive the same treatment. Most standard chemo drugs work by killing cells in the body that grow and divide quickly. But have you ever wondered why certain treatments worked better for some people than for others? Hence there are drugs available which have specific target can sometimes provide a better clinical outcome termed as Targeted therapy.
Researchers have found that genetic differences in people and their tumors more often results in varying responses to treatment. Not all tumors have the same genetic alterations, thus a standard treatment will not be effective for everyone.
2 Targeted therapy
Such individuals can opt for targeted therapy, which is a special type of chemotherapy that takes advantage of differences between normal cells and tumor cells. It aims specifically for genetic changes which give rise to cancer cells.
But there are many different types of cancer, and not all tumor cells are the same. For example, colon cancer and breast cancer cells often have different gene changes that help them grow and/or spread. Even among people with colon cancer, the cancer cells can have different gene changes.
3 Cancer diagnostics
Genetic tests (such as Next Generation Sequencing) are used to help guide treatment for an individual who is suffering with cancer based on their mutational status. These tests help to inform a healthcare practitioner as to whether certain targeted cancer drugs may or may not work you.
In breast cancer, if you are diagnosed with germline BRCA1/2 mutation with available companion diagnostic tests such as Myriad BRCAnalysis FDA approved for PARP inhibitor treatment(s) can show increased likelihood of benefit to the patient.
Conversely, about 40% of colorectal cancers have KRAS mutation. In such tumors, the targeted therapy such as and panitumumab will not be efficacious enough thus, if you have colorectal cancer, it is helpful to be tested for the KRAS mutation and save yourself from side effects of these drugs.
Some treatments are known as “tumor-agnostic” or “site-agnostic treatments,” which are not specific to a certain type of cancer. Instead, they focus on a specific genetic change and are used to treat tumors anywhere in the body.
Pembrolizumab was the first drug to be approved with a tumor-agnostic indication. It is a type of immunotherapy. It is a humanized antibody is used to treat tumors which have a molecular alteration called microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or DNA mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR).
5 Clinical trials
What if there is no FDA-approved drug available in the market to target your mutation? No worries you may have opportunities for treatment in clinical trials that are studying these changes.
Trials such as Umbrella trials evaluate the efficacy of various targeted therapy for cancer against several mutations in one cancer type. On the other hand, the basket format of clinical trials performs the same evaluation as an umbrella trial, but on multiple kinds of tumors (eg. TAPUR, NCT02693535). Using this newer format of NGS-driven trial design (i.e., umbrella or basket), patients from all over are recruited into a larger study and profiled by NGS, which serves to funnel patients into the various trial treatment arms based on their actionable mutation(s).