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Protein Key to Lung Cancer Drug Response

Patients with EMP-1 in tumor cells may not respond to Iressa, study finds

FRIDAY, Aug. 12, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A protein called EMP-1 is present in the tumors of lung cancer patients who fail to respond to treatment with the drug Iressa (gefitinib), according to U.S. researchers.

"Our results show that the EMP-1 protein is a biomarker for resistance to treatment with gefitinib, and may enable us to identify patients who won't respond to the drug," study senior author Dr. David Agus, research director at the Louis Warschaw Prostate Cancer Center at Cedars-Sinai, said in a prepared statement.

"If we know who won't respond, we can explore other treatment options sooner and use gefitinib when patients will benefit. This means we will be able to maximize use of this drug and treat patients more effectively," Angus said.

The Cedars-Sinai team found the presence of EMP-1 is not only a marker for patients who won't respond to the drug, it's also a marker for patients who'll later develop a resistance to gefitinib.

The study, published in this week's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted in the laboratory and with patients diagnosed with non small-cell lung cancer, the most common and deadly form of lung malignancy.

Gefitinib is used to treat patients with non small-cell lung cancer who haven't responded to other chemotherapy, the researchers note.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about gefitinib.

SOURCE: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, news release, Aug. 8, 2005
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