George Demetri, MD, Senior Vice President for Experimental Therapeutics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses the lasting benefit of targeted therapy that included Gleevec in advanced GIST at the recent 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Citing a study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Demetri states, “This study confirms the long-term benefit of targeted therapy in a subset of patients with life-threatening advanced GIST.”

Demetri goes on to say that “Our research is focusing on why this subset does so well, and also stresses new ways to address the problems of resistance to targeted therapy with combinations of drugs as well as new therapeutic strategies and novel agents.”

This long-term study followed 695 patients with advanced GIST who participated in a clinical trial of imatinib beginning in 2001. Researchers gathered more in-depth information on 179 of these patients.  Forty-nine percent of them had been treated only with imatinib for GIST; 39 percent had received other systemic agents. Some of the patients had undergone surgery or received radiation therapy for GIST recurrences.

Researchers continue to work to improve targeted therapy for patients whose GIST cells carry other genetic mutations.

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