ARTICLE | Cover Story

REThinking lung cancer

March 1, 2012 8:00 AM UTC

Less than five years after the discovery of the EML4-ALK oncogenic fusion protein as a driver of non-small cell lung cancers, and less than a year after the FDA approved Pfizer Inc.'s Xalkori crizotinib to target that fusion in these tumors, four research teams have independently identified another tyrosine kinase fusion-KIF5B-RET oncogenic fusion protein-that could underlie about 2% of lung adenocarcinoma cases.1-4 The findings provide a rationale for testing multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitors that target RET, including Sutent sunitinib, Caprelsa vandetanib and Nexavar sorafenib, in lung cancer and for developing more specific RET-targeted therapies.

One of the four groups, hailing from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, hopes to begin a Phase II trial of Pfizer's Sutent in KIF5B-RET-positive lung cancer patients in the first half of this year, and biotech Xcovery Inc. is now looking for more specific RET inhibitors based on the findings...