Scientists over at the University of Southern Denmark have discovered a way in which to combine certain drugs to effectively inhibit the growth of tumors. This new strategy for overcoming resistance could lead to better forms of treatment for cancer patients and therefore better survival rates for them too. Tumor growth is arrested by using an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor to block the signal pathway in cancer cells. The problem is that often the effect is only temporary and after a year or so the cancer cells come back.  As a result, many patients became resistant to the treatment.


“We investigated how the cancer cells evade the treatment. They do this in at least 10 different ways, and there’s no denying that it complicates the challenge of finding a subsequent treatment that, in the longer term, can stop tumor growth and improve survival of lung cancer patients,” says Professor and Consultant Henrik Ditzel from the Department of Molecular Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark and the Department of Oncology at Odense University Hospital.

This new research proves that in every cell that develops a resistance there is a common mechanism in play. AKT activity is elevated within the cells of lung cancer patients of those that are no longer responding to tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatments. So instead, scientists tested a new treatment that had been mixed using an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor and an AKT inhibitor.


Results from the study showed that this combination of drugs did, in fact, stop the tumor growth. “An approved drug already exists to inhibit AKJT activities. So we are aiming very soon at embarking on a clinical study, in which lung cancer patients, whose malignant tumor has increased AKT, will be given a combination treatment using the two known drugs at the same time.

In the longer term, we hope that this will prolong the lives of lung cancer patients, if we can combine several treatments – in other words, turning them into a single treatment – instead of administering different treatments in succession,” says Ditzel.


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