New Treatment Approved in Canada for Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

According to a story from Biotech 365, the biopharmaceutical company Deciphera Pharmaceuticals has recently announced that the company’s drug ripretinib (marketed as QINLOCK™) has been approved by Health Canada. The drug has been approved as a fourth-line treatment for adult patients with advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Fourth-line means that the patient will have needed to have previously received treatment with three other drugs and seen disease progression or relapse.

About Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) is a form of tumor that can appear in the digestive tract. These tumors appear in the interstitial cells of Cajal, which control smooth muscle activity. These tumors are connected to mutations that affect the KIT gene or the PDGFRA gene in the vast majority of cases. In most cases, these mutations appear sporadically, and are only rarely inherited. Typically they occur as part of another genetic disorder when they are inherited. They can occur in a number of locations along the digestive tract, most often the stomach, small intestine, or esophagus. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, liver metastases, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Treatment usually involves surgery or medications when surgery is not possible. Gastronintestinal stromal tumors generally do not respond to radiation or chemotherapy. To learn more about gastrointestinal stromal tumors, click here.


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved QINLOCK as a treatment for this disease last month. The medication is categorized as a switch-control inhibitor of tyrosine kinase. The approval of the drug in this indication in both the US and Canada follows results from a phase 3 clinical trial. In this study, QINLOCK was able to reduce the risk of death or progression of disease by 85 percent. In addition, it produced a median progression-free survival of 6.3 months compared to just one month in the placebo group.

Deciphera plans to continue to develop the drug for other cancers influenced by kinase mutations, such as systemic mastocytosis. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors can be difficult to treat effectively when they reach an advanced stage and there a few effective medications to treat these tumors if they cannot be resolved with surgery. Every new medication has the potential to make a difference in the lives of these patients. 

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