The new cancer drug treats a genetic disorder responsible for most of the cancers influencing several types of tumors.
Researchers conducted an experiment with cancer drug known as Ulixertinib on 135 patients already failed with other variety of advanced solid tumors. Researchers led by Dr. Ryan Sullivan, of Massachusetts General Hospital, said Ulixertinib did seem to spur at least a partial response to the therapy or disease stabilization regardless of cancer type. “It was exciting to see responses in some patients,” said Sullivan, an oncologist and member of the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at the Boston hospital.
Researcher Dr. Maria Nieto have explained the mechanism of the cancer drug. “It inhibits the MAPK/ERK pathway. As chain of proteins in the cell that communicates a signal from a receptor on the surface of the cell to the DNA in the nucleus of the cell,”
“When one of the proteins in the pathway is mutated. It can become stuck in the ‘on’ or ‘off’ position. A necessary step in the development of many cancers.” Ulixertinib effectively inhibits this broken cellular pathway, and that inhibition “can be therapeutically exploited in multiple different cancers such as melanoma, lung, colon, and low-grade ovarian cancer,” she explained.
Melanoma and Lung cancers
Ulixertinib targets the final regulator in the MAPK/ERK pathway, it might avoid cancer cells’ typical resistance to drug treatment.
“A great number of cancers including melanoma and lung cancers have mutations in the MAPK/ERK pathway. While current cancer drug therapies target proteins in this cascade, many patients develop resistance to current drugs,” he explained.
“The common denominator in these failed therapies is that the cancer has found a way to activate ERK. Therefore, the development of ERK inhibitors is a crucial next step to target this aberrant pathway,” Sullivan said. When it came to side effects, Ulixertinib appeared to have a tolerable profile, with most issues not particularly severe, the researchers said.
Moreover, the study funded by the drug’s developer, Biomed Valley Discoveries. “Ulixertinib halts the message at the last stop before the signal. And make it into the nucleus and creates a second roadblock. Therefore halting growth of the cancer cell,” Bernik explained.
However, the cancer drug therapy shows great promise and allows cancer drugs to work synergistically. Making it much harder for the cancer cell to figure out a way to continue to multiply and spread.
According to the study team, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has fast-tracked Ulixertinib for development and potential approval.