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European Partners to Seek New Approaches for Dealing with Colorectal Cancer

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 26 Dec 2013
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A European research project is directed at finding new diagnostic and therapeutic tools to better find and treat patients with colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in Europe, and with approximately 200,000 deaths per year, it remains the second most common cause of cancer death. More than half of all CRC patients develop distant metastases and have five-year overall survival of less than 5% because of ineffective treatments.

A six million euro research project on CRC funded by the European Commission's Framework VII Program called MErCuRIC is linked to a thousand-patient multicenter phase Ib/II clinical trial. Experiments have been designed to assess a novel therapeutic strategy that combines treatment with the MEK inhibitor PD-0325901 (MEK is a critical member of the MAPK pathway involved in growth and survival of cancer cells) and the MET (an oncogene that encodes hepatocyte growth factor receptor) inhibitor PF-02341066. It is expected that the combined treatment will combat metastasis, improve survival, and change current clinical practice for CRC patients with KRAS mutant (MT) and KRAS wild type (WT) (with aberrant c-MET) tumors.

The MErCuRIC research project, which comprises 13 partners in eight different European countries, will go beyond the current state-of-the- art by (i) employing a novel treatment strategy targeting the biology of the disease and by (ii) using next generation sequencing (NGS) to identify CRC patient subgroups who will maximally benefit from this novel treatment strategy.

Dr. Sandra van Schaeybroeck, professor of medicine at Queen's University (Belfast, United Kingdom), said, "Our research has identified two key genes that are contributing to the aggressive spread of colorectal cancer. The research being carried out by MErCuRIC will allow us to bring this research to the next level by developing and conducting a clinical trial that targets the products of these two genes in patients with metastic or aggressive colorectal cancer."

Dr. Tim Maughan, professor of clinical oncology at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom), said, "This is an important study, which has the potential to develop new approaches to treat patients who have what is essentially an incurable disease. Bringing together world leading researchers from across Europe has the potential to make important developments in the war against this very aggressive form of cancer."

Related Links:

Queen's University
University of Oxford

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