Lung cancer is the world’s most deadly cancer, with only 15 percent of those diagnosed surviving more than five years after diagnosis. Up to one in four of those cancers will have a mutation in the KRAS gene, which generally results in poorer prognosis for patients. Finding ways to target the protein has eluded researchers since its discovery over 30 years ago. However, a new drug which binds to the mutation protein and stops it working, has just been acquired by the NHS.
Lung cancer patients in England are set to become the first to receive a “ground breaking” new treatment shown to stall the growth of tumours.
The drug, Sotorasib, is set to be fast-tracked to NHS patients after it was proven in clinical trials to stop lung cancer growing for seven months.
The novel treatment, developed by Drugmaker Amgen, has so far been tested on patients with the most common types of lung cancer, known as non-small cell cancer.
The medication targets the mutations on the KRAS gene which is found in a quarter of all tumours and is known as the ‘Death Star’.
Taken as a tablet, the drug binds with the KRAS G12C mutation and makes it inactive, stopping cell division and cancer growth.
The Kras gene or “Death Star” mutation, so-called because of its spherical appearance, occurs in 13 percent of patients with non-small cell cancer.
The gene is responsible for a protein that controls cell growth, which causes the proliferation of cells leading to cancer.
About 600 patients are set to be given the drug in England, after an access deal struck with the manufacturer Amgen UK.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and Amgen reached an accord to enable early access of the drug in England, on the heels of approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MGRA).
The drug is said to benefit thousands of cancer patients in coming years.
Around three quarters of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage in England, highlighting the need for effective therapeutic targets for the deadly condition.
Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said: “Sotorasib is one of the most exciting breakthroughs in lung cancer treatment in 20 years, targeting a cancer gene that was previously untreatable and built on decades of laboratory researcher that’s unravelled cancer’s inner workings.
“This medicine expands our list of effective precision therapies in lung cancer that are helping to improve survival for patients with limited options.
“It’s great news that patients in England will now benefit from this novel treatment.”
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, said: “The UK is leading the world in rolling out new life-saving treatments so patients can access them as early as possible.
“This ground-breaking new drug, which stops lung tumours growing, will make a difference to people across England and bosses our efforts to get people the treatment they need.”