According to the National Cancer Institute, lung cancer is responsible for more deaths per year than any other form of cancer. Medical science believes that approximately 25 percent of all cases of lung cancer result directly from a mutation of the KRAS oncogene. Aggressive and often resistant to treatment, this cancer gene has a spherical shape that researchers have been trying to penetrate since discovery of the gene in 1982.
Under the leadership of senior researcher Dr. Michael White at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, research teams created and analyzed numerous combinations of pharmaceutical interventions. Results showed that inactivation of the protein XPO1, located in the nucleus, kills the majority of KRAS-dependent cells. Markers of this process are evident in the cellular pathway that directs inflammation and tumor growth, as well as that which controls cell replication and organ size.
This discovery carries hope for treatment teams, as an existing drug has already proven effective at inhibiting XPO1. Pharmaceutical company Karyopharm Therapeutics is now looking into a potential clinical trial of the XPO1 targeting drug Selenixor, which it plans to give to patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) caused by KRAS mutation.