Chinese researchers probe for biomarkers to guide Tarceva use

A meeting of the European Society of Clinical Oncology produced headlines for Roche's Tarceva, which is proving to be particularly effective for non-small cell lung cancer with an EGFR gene mutation. Patients with the biomarker lived almost three times as long when standard therapy was combined with Tarceva (erlotinib). And the study data put the cancer drug on target to go head-to-head with Iressa, which is specifically approved for that EGFR-mutated disease.

What may have escaped notice, though, was the detailed biomarker work that is being done to fine tune the use of the drug. Scientists in China completed an analysis aimed to evaluate the impact on various biomarkers with survival among the patient population.

"Detailed biomarker analysis did not identify additional markers that could be used to further optimize treatment decisions," said Professor Yi-long Wu from Guangdong General Hospital. "It was found that patients who had exon 19 deletions in EGFR had longer progression-free survival with erlotinib than those with L858R mutations and only one patient had an EGFR T790M mutation, and remained progression-free for only 0.62 months."

All these studies have been conducted in Asia and investigators are currently studying if they can confirm the results in Caucasians.

- here's the release
- read the Reuters story