There are two new treatments that may have an impact on fighting GIST – immunotherapy and MRI-guided radiation. The LRG is continually looking into new treatments for GIST, and these two forms of treatment are on the horizon.
Matt van de Rijn,LRG Research Team member from Stanford University Medical Center is currently researching immunotherapy treatments for GIST. Immunotherapy has been very successful in the treatment of metastatic melanoma by dermatologists. Immunotherapies for metastatic melanoma are monoclonal antibodies designed to block signals that inhibit the ability of the host immune system to eradicate cancerous cells. Michael Postow, M.D. recently spoke at the 38th Hawaii Dermatology Seminar. Dr. Postow is the assistant attending physician, melanoma-sarcoma oncology service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York.
“Until recently, chemotherapy and interleukin-2 were all that could be offered to patients with metastatic melanoma, but the efficacy of each of those approaches was limited. Therefore, metastatic melanoma was a fatal disease for most patients,” says Dr. Postow.
The first immunotherapy treatment in it’s class is the intravenous ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb), which targets cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4). In addition, there are several intravenous agents in development that target the programmed death-1 receptor (PD-1). Nivolumab (Bristol-Myers Squibb), and MK -3475 (Merck) are the two treatments that are farthest along.
MRI-guided radiation therapy is another newly emerging approach. It allows physicians to monitor tumor movement in real time during treatment. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is the first cancer center to use this type of treatment on patients.
Radiation therapy is an integral part of treating cancer, with nearly two-thirds of patients receiving radiation treatments. MRI-guided radiation therapy allows doctors to “know precisely when a tumor shifts,” said Dennis Hallahan, MD, chairman of radiation oncology and the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor of Medicine. “This allows us to pause radiation with the goal of sparing healthy tissue, reducing side effects and improving a patient’s overall outcome. It’s one more advance in personalized cancer care.”
It is unclear yet whether MRI-guided radiation therapy can be used as part of GIST treatment, but as it is used in treating other cancers, it may be a possibility.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available. Please be sure to follow the LRG on Facebook and Twitter.