‘You wouldn’t wear just any pair of glasses – your prescription is tailored to your vision’. This statement alludes to and embraces the importance of an individual’s unique characteristics: genetics, health history, lifestyle, diet, or geographic location. Just as you would expect your doctor to match a blood transfusion to a blood type, wouldn’t you want your health care tailored uniquely to you in other ways if that were possible? The answer is likely YES. This is the foundation of precision medicine, a customized treatment plan based on an individual’s unique characteristics and developed using advanced technology.
How Does Precision Medicine Use Advanced Technology to Match a Cancer Treatment to a Patient?
While all humans are alike, variations in DNA blueprints are what differentiate one from another, and in certain individuals those variations may be the root cause of some illnesses, including cancer. Modern computational technology has made it possible for scientists to analyze the gigantic sets of codes in our DNA that affect human health and to identify tiny variations in that code. This is Precision Medicine.
How Does Targeted Therapy Rely on Precision Medicine?
Because cancer may be considered a disease of genomics, or one’s DNA, we now have the technology and knowledge to pinpoint where the change in genomics occurred and caused certain cancers. This helps us to design cancer treatments specifically targeting those abnormalities in cancer cells without harming adjacent normal cells. This is Targeted Therapy.
As an example, scientists have learned the genomic alteration related to lung cancer patients and are exploring how using targeted therapy shapes the way we treat lung cancer. One of the genes that is abnormal and might cause cancer is MET (c-MET; MET-EXON 14).
What Is MET and How is it Related to Cancer?
c-MET is a protein (MET gene) we all have in our body that plays a role in normal cell growth. Sometimes, for an unknown reason, MET gets altered and can contribute to cancer. Recent research suggests that these alterations in the MET gene (e.g., Exon 14 skipping, amplification or fusion) are often found in patients with lung cancer and other types of solid tumour cancers. Therefore, inhibiting abnormal MET pathways is considered an important focus area for developing new targeted therapies.
A Clinical Trial Targeting MET
The SPARTA Clinical Trial is exploring an investigational drug (APL-101) that targets tumour cells expressing one or more MET genetic abnormalities in hopes to cause tumour cell death and shrink or halt cancer cell growth in various advanced cancer types. APL-101 has been studied in participants with advanced solid tumours (including glioblastoma; gastrointestinal cancers; lung cancer) in a Phase 1/2 global clinical trial enrolling in 14 countries around the world.
To be eligible for the SPARTA Study, patients must qualify for the prerequisite criteria including a diagnosis with advanced tumours and have one (or more) of the following alterations in their MET gene: MET Exon 14 skipping mutation, MET Amplification, MET-gene Fusions.
To learn more about investigational options for patients with MET aberrated cancers, visit: https://spartacancertrial.com/.
You should consult your doctor to discuss the possible benefits and ways for you to get the MET genetic alteration test and participate in the SPARTA Clinical Trial.
1. Precision Medicine Initiative letters to President Obama [2015; wh.gov/PMI] 2. Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors for solid tumors in the past 20 years. Huang L et al., 2020 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33109256/
Thank you to Apollomics for this guest piece. Visit their website here.
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