Tumor-Agnostic Treatment for Cancer: When How is Better than Where

Daniele Lavacchi, Giandomenico Roviello, Alberto D'Angelo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (SciVal)
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In the evolving landscape of precision oncology, genomic characterization of tumor has become crucial in order to move toward a molecular-based therapy for the vast majority of cancers. Recently, translational research has offered new perspectives in systemic cancer treatment thanks to the identification of novel oncogenic targets and the development of new targeted therapies, followed by the latest applications of genomic sequencing. Simultaneously, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has expanded its accessibility, being incorporated into clinical studies at the time of the initial screening, disease progression, and often in longitudinal monitoring of molecular changes. Consequently, new potentially targetable molecular alterations have been identified in several different types of tumors, leading to the development of tumor-agnostic treatments. Being highly selective for specific molecular alterations, these drugs are active against different subtypes of oncogene-addicted cancers. Three of these drugs-pembrolizumab [an anti-programmed death 1 (PD-1) monoclonal antibody (MAb)], larotrectinib [a pan-tropomyosin receptor tyrosine kinase (TRK) inhibitor], and entrectinib [a pan-TRK, anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and ROS-1 inhibitor]-received US FDA approval in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively. In this article, we critically review the clinical studies responsible for FDA approval and the most recently updated results. We then discuss the benefits and limitations of these new methodological approaches, paying particular attention to the largest precision medicine master protocol, NCI-MATCH. Among the benefits, there are the increased chances of offering targeted therapies for patients with specific alterations identified in different types of tumors. Among the limitations, we highlight that the same driver mutation may require different therapeutic strategies in different types of cancers. Additionally, the complex study design undeniably requires a dynamic strategy to enroll patients with considerable economic and managerial efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-527
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Drug Investigation
Issue number6
Early online date19 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


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