Dr Malinda Itchins
Dr Malinda Itchins research update
In 2018, Fight on the Beaches kindly awarded 100K grant towards the biomarker analysis for a lung cancer clinical trial led by Dr Malinda Itchins at Royal North Shore Hospital. This trial ‘ALKternate’ has now recruited, been followed up and the results analysed and is now being prepared for journal publication. The preliminary results were presented by Dr Itchins at the recent World Lung Cancer Conference, Singapore, September 2023 (photo).
ALKternate is a pilot study which has investigated changing the way we treat ALK+ lung cancers, an important subgroup of lung cancers which often affects young and never smokers. This lung cancer is treated with tablet therapy which works well, but not forever as drug resistance is inevitable.
ALKternate looked at switching around two tablet therapies (ALK-inhibitors) to prevent or delay the development of drug resistance leading to cancer regrowth and a treatment change needed in those well enough to continue treatment. In switching tablets the idea is to trick the cancer to not become too familiar with one treatment and work out a way to overcome the effects of the treatment. ALKternate found this unconventional way of treating these lung cancers was safe and feasible and did not alter the drug levels in the individuals blood through the switching around process. Many patients were benefitting for longer with this treatment approach than the conventional treatment expectation. It also found that using the patient’s blood samples to monitor DNA (genes) and proteins in the blood this can help predict how a patient will perform on treatment. These blood test analyses were made possible with Fight on the Beaches support.
Dr Itchins and colleagues are now looking to expand this trial to include more patients, and to in fact choose which drug to switch to based on the blood results proactively.
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