Genetic mutation will narrow target cancer groups

The K-ras gene is coming in for some star treatment at the ASCO meeting in Chicago. The gene plays a key role in several cancers, and new research indicates that the common genetic mutation makes Erbitux useless for slightly more than a third of all patients who may currently qualify for the drug.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the genetic signpost is helping R&D teams design clinical trials for new cancer drugs, using the genetic information to help them identify patients most likely to respond. The developers will benefit by increasing their shot at producing statistically significant data but will likely have to scale back the potential size of their market--a trade-off that payers in the U.S. will be glad to see.

- read the article in the Wall Street Journal