Scientists develop new drug to target KRAS mutations in cancer

pharmafile | January 5, 2021 | News story | Manufacturing and Production Cancer, Cancer Research UK 

In a study funded by Cancer Research UK and Wellcome, scientists have developed a new drug that effectively targets the KRAS mutation found in several hard-to-treat cancers.

The new drug, called CCT3833, targets two parts of the KRAS signalling pathway, whereas standard KRAS inhibitors only block one. It has been tested on pancreatic, colorectal, and lung cancer cell lines with KRAS mutations, as well as pancreatic tumours in mice.

The results of the study, which have been published in Annals of Oncology, show CCT3833 was more effective at stopping the growth of pancreatic tumours with a KRAS mutation in mice compared with standard KRAS inhibitors.

Findings from an early phase clinical trial on 31 patients with solid tumours were also included in the study. One patient in the trial, whose KRAS-mutant tumour had previously failed to respond to standard treatment and was continuing to grow, found the tumour had reduced in size for eight months after receiving the new drug.

Professor Richard Marais, director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: “Cancers with a KRAS gene change have been notoriously difficult to treat. Because current drugs that target KRAS are only able to block one part of the pathway, cancer cells can easily outmanoeuvre treatments.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see that the impressive effects of the drug in the lab are already also showing promise in early-stage trials that include hard-to-treat cancers.”

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, also commented: “This study has built upon almost 20 years of Cancer Research UK-funded research, and shows the importance of investing in basic research in the lab, which unpicks the biology of cancer.

“Breakthroughs in science are all about small steps that can lead to great change, and these results have brought us closer to a potential new option for people with these difficult-to-treat cancers.”

Darcy Jimenez

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