A paper to be published in the journal Nature Medicine will explain how the combination of dasatinib and demcizumab effectively reduces lung adenocarcinomas and improves prognosis and survival rates for lung cancer.

“Classically, tumors have been studied at advanced stages, but we were interested in studying the initial stages of tumor formation. We followed this approach to avoid the heterogeneity issue and try to identify new essential mechanisms that sustain tumor development with potential therapeutic uses,” says Chiara Ambrogio.

The researchers analysed the gene signature of these tumors through large-scale gene analysis techniques. “We discovered that these tumors display high levels of activity of the DDR1 gene, so we decided to validate its inhibition as a potential therapeutic strategy for this type of tumor.”

Recent data indicate that combined therapies using two or more drugs can prevent, or at least delay, relapses in the case of cancer patients; thus, the experts simultaneously used dasatinib, which inhibits the DDR1 protein, together with demcizumab, an antibody inhibiting the Notch pathway that is functionally related to DDR1 in this tumor type.

After five years of research, the experts conclude that the combination of the two drugs has additive effects on tumours, reducing their size, preventing their progression and significantly increasing survival rates. “One of the advantages of the project is that the two drugs employed have already been approved by the regulatory agencies, which will significantly speed-up studies on human patients. The next steps are clinical trials to validate the combination of these drugs as the first targeted therapy for the treatment of these tumors.”

Photo Credit: Chiara Ambrogio. CNIO

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