February 1, 2018 – More Mutations


Anchor lead: When it comes to combating cancer, are more mutations better? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Is having more mutations in your cancer better than having just a few? It may be, when the class of drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors is being used to treat it. That’s according to work done at Johns Hopkins and published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Hopkins, comments.

Nelson: The group here looked at this across 27 different tumor types, people treated with any of the drugs targeting the PD1, PDL1, and what they found was that this hypothesis is more or less true. The cancers with greater numbers of mutations were far more likely to benefit from one of these immune checkpoint inhibitors than ones with few mutations. Fifty-five percent of the differences in the propensity to respond or not appeared to be related to the number of these mutations. :30

Nelson says more work needs to be done to discern why more mutations help when it comes to responding to this class of drugs. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.