$1 Million Combined Grant Given to Study RET-Positive Lung Cancer

According to a recent article, the Hamoui Foundation and LUNGevity Foundation granted $1 million to three researchers in order to study RET-positive lung cancer.

RET-Positive Lung Cancer

There are two main types of RET genetic alterations, or errors in the gene. One is called RET point mutations. You can think of that as places where the DNA is misspelled. Those are often found in medullary thyroid cancer. The other is called a RET rearrangement or gene fusion. That is when a piece of DNA joins with another gene and creates a fusion. This fusion leads to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer. This is the most common RET gene error in lung cancer.

There are different types of RET rearrangements. The type depends on which gene is fused (or joined) with RET. The gene KIF5b is the most common fusion partner, and CCDC6 is second most common.

RET rearrangements appear in about 1-2% of lung cancer patients and generally appear in adenocarcinoma non-small cell lung cancer. Patients who have RET rearrangements tend to be younger than the average lung cancer patient and have little to no smoking history.

In general, there are two ways to detect RET rearrangements. The best way is through comprehensive next-generation sequencing (NGS). This type of testing places tissue from a patient’s tumor (gathered from a biopsy) in a machine that looks for a large number of possible biomarkers at one time. There may be some situations where a patient can’t undergo the biopsy needed to perform NGS, and so liquid biopsy is recommended. A liquid biopsy can look for certain biomarkers in a patient’s blood. Talk to your doctor to make sure one of these tests was performed.

Tejas Patil, MD

Tejas Patil, MD, is one of the three researchers that received the grant. Patil is an assistant professor of medical oncology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. His research is focused on RET-positive lung cancer patients who develop resistance to targeted therapies. Furthermore, he is looking at how the EGFR and MET signaling pathways contribute to this resistance.

Patil’s Study

Patil’s multisite study will study the use of amivantamab, a bi-specific antibody which targets EGFR and MET, in lung cancer patients that are RET-positive and have grown resistant to targeted therapies. The medication is FDA-approved and has shown to be successful in treating other types of lung cancer mutations. Patil will study the use of amivantamab in combination with an RET treatment.

The study will take place over five years, starting this year, and it will specifically evaluate patients at three intervals. The first interval is prior to the patient beginning treatment, the next will be after they have developed resistance to their targeted therapy, and the final interval will be after being treated with amivantamab.

Patil is hopeful that his research will also aid in other cancers that also use EGFR and MET pathways as a way of resistance. He speaks to this, stating that his research could offer patients another treatment option. As there are very few options for these patients currently, this is a very big benefit.

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