Research ArticleLUNG CANCER

Frequent and Focal FGFR1 Amplification Associates with Therapeutically Tractable FGFR1 Dependency in Squamous Cell Lung Cancer

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Dec 2010:
Vol. 2, Issue 62, pp. 62ra93
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001451

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A Smoking Gun for Lung Cancer

Detectives and scientists alike need strong evidence to take their cases to the judge, who for scientists is often a patient with a deadly disease. Yet, new culprits are sometimes found that can break a case wide open. Lung cancer, which accounts for more than 10% of the global cancer burden, has a poor prognosis and inadequately responds to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. New targeted treatments for lung adenocarcinomas inhibit the oncogenic versions of signaling protein kinases that arise from mutations typically found in lung cancer patients who have never smoked. However, smokers frequently suffer from a different deviant, squamous cell lung cancers, for which there are no known molecular genetic targets for therapy. Now, Weiss et al. have fingered a new suspect in smoking-related lung cancer: amplification of the FGFR1 gene, which encodes the fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 tyrosine kinase (FGFR1).

To identify therapeutically viable genetic alterations that may influence squamous cell lung cancer, Weiss et al. performed genomic profiles on a large set of lung cancer specimens. Squamous cell lung cancer samples showed FGFR1 amplification, which was not found in other lung cancer subtypes. The authors then determined that a molecule that broadly inhibits FGF receptor function could block tumor growth and cause cell death in the cancers that expressed high amounts of the FGFR1 gene product in a manner that was dependent on FGFR1 expression. Moreover, FGFR1 inhibition resulted in a considerable decrease in tumor size in a mouse model of FGFR1-amplified lung cancer. This culmination of evidence implies that inhibition of this receptor tyrosine kinase should be explored as a candidate therapy for corralling squamous cell lung cancer in smokers.

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