Old Drugs for New Mutations

Our researchers are anticipating mutations and finding medications to treat them. New therapies aimed at specific genetic mutations can dramatically increase cancer patients’ life expectancy. However, new mutations inevitably arise that render the targeted medications ineffective. Jay Finigan, MD; Jeffrey Kern, MD; and their colleagues are searching for medications that can be used when targeted therapies become ineffective.

Using sophisticated biological and computational methods, they identified seven genes that are both active in lung cancer and essential to the survival of lung cancer cells. Searching a database of existing medications that target those genes, they found bosutinib, a medication already approved to treat a form of leukemia. When they tested bosutinib in lung cancer cells, it effectively killed cells resistant to targeted medications. They are now evaluating bosutinib in animal models.