DNA sequencing exposes new uses for Pfizer targeted cancer drugs

As pharma companies expand their use of DNA sequencing for drug R&D, researchers have uncovered some potential new targets for existing cancer drugs that are likely to spur further use of sequencing in the biopharma world. And their study has shed light on potential new uses for at least two of drug giant Pfizer's ($PFE) targeted cancer drugs.

With a cancer gene test from life sciences startup Foundation Medicine, the researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and elsewhere found that 59% of lung and colorectal cancer samples tested included genetic abnormalities that could be combated with targeted cancer drugs. A subset of lung cancer samples showed that the patients had mutations that could be targeted with Pfizer's approved kidney cancer drug Sutent, and one patient's colorectal cancer was found to have gene abnormality targeted by Pfizer's Xalkori.

The previously unknown genetic flaw in lung cancer was seen in about 2% of patient samples, but Dana-Farber lung cancer specialist Dr. Pasi Janne says that is enough to warrant further study of the Sutent in certain lung cancer patients, he told Bloomberg. Pfizer is taking an interest in the findings too, which shouldn't come as a surprise. Drugmakers and regulators have shown a willingness to move forward with drugs for small pools of patients if the drugs can deliver major benefits for those patients. With genetic tests like Foundation's catching on among drug developers, there's sure to be other new targets unearthed to propel further development of personalized cancer medicines.

"It is moving closer and closer to real personalized medicine," Janne, a co-author of the study told Bloomberg. "It is fantastic as we can tailor our therapy to the particular genetics of a patient's cancer."

- here's the release
- check out Bloomberg's article