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A la carte treatment for each lung cancer

Approximately 20,000 people die annually from this disease in Spain.

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Daniel Ajona, María Isabel Zudaire, Luis Montuenga, Jackeline Agorreta, Rubén Pío and María José Pajares. In the inset, Marta Larráyoz, lead author of the study, who is doing a postdoctoral stay at the University of Southampton (UK). PHOTO: Manuel Castells
10/03/14 16:29 María Pilar Huarte

Researchers at research center Applied Medicine (CIMA) of the University of Navarra have demonstrated that the efficacy of a widely used treatment for lung cancer (anti-angiogenic therapies) depends on the biological profile of the tumor. The results of this study have been published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Tumor cells produce a protein (VEGF) that induces the training formation of new blood vessels within the tumor. This process, called angiogenesis, favors the development of metastasis, so traditionally a higher expression of VEGF in the tumor has been related to a worse prognosis of the disease. One of the most widely used biologically targeted therapies in lung cancer is the blockade of angiogenesis by inhibiting VEGF. Currently, in the clinical internship this therapy is only administered to patients with non-squamous histology, mainly adenocarcinomas which, together with squamous carcinoma, is one of the major subtypes of lung cancer. 

The group of research at CIMA has shown that the efficacy of antiangiogenic therapies differs depending on the tumor subject . "In mouse models of lung adenocarcinoma, antiangiogenic therapies were successful in reducing tumor size. However, in models of squamous lung carcinoma treated with antiangiogenics, an increase in tumor size, cell proliferation and stem cell markers was observed. These results are of great importance when designing new clinical trials, in which, among other criteria, it will be necessary to take into account the histological or molecular subtype of the patient," explained Dr. Marta Larráyoz, lead author of work, directed by Dr. Jackeline Agorreta. The next step of work will be to analyze the genetic alterations or mutations associated with patients' responses, in order to try to determine molecular biomarkers that predict which patients may benefit from anti-angiogenic therapies.

Cancer with the highest mortality rate

Lung cancer represents an important challenge for today's medicine, as its mortality rate remains extremely high. It accounts for 12.3% of all new cancer cases and is the subject cancer with the highest mortality rate in Western countries. In Europe it accounts for some 410,000 new cases per year and is manager responsible for some 353,000 deaths. In Spain almost 20,000 people die each year from lung cancer, about 14 times more than those who died in 2013 from road traffic accidents.