Novartis’ targeted therapy capmatinib can effectively shrink metastasized lung cancer tumors in the brain, according to a study to be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting.

Capmatinib controlled disease in the brain in 12 of 13 evaluable patients with brain metastases, and it shrunk tumors in seven of those 13 patients. Four patients showed a complete response, meaning the drug erased all evidence of their brain lesions.

And the drug worked quickly, too. “These responses happened quite rapidly. All the patients responding in the brain had responded by the first set of scans,” Edward Garon, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said.

“Brain metastases are a significant problem in lung cancer,” so its efficacy there is “considered to be a nice feature …  of this agent,” he added.

While no drugs are approved to treat MET exon 14 skipping mutations, Garon cited Pfizer’s Xalkori as one that sees off-label use in those patients.

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