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Expert Examines Emerging Biomarkers in NSCLC

Kristi Rosa
Published: Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Brandon Weckbaugh, MD

Brandon Weckbaugh, MD

The treatment landscape of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) continues to expand with potential biomarkers that are under investigation, as well as novel agents that could potentially target them. What was once a major area of unmet need has experienced an explosion of new research, said Brandon Weckbaugh, MD.

on Advanced Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer, Weckbaugh, an oncology fellow at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, shed light on emerging biomarkers in NSCLC.

OncLive: What drugs have recently been approved for some emerging biomarkers in NSCLC?

Weckbaugh: Previously, this was an area of unmet need with actionable mutations in NSCLC. But more recently, there have been a couple of new drugs approved, which are targeted for some of these mutations. To take NTRK as an example, there are 2 drugs that have [shown promise]—entrectinib and larotrectinib. These have shown very good efficacy and responsiveness for patients with NTRK-mutated NSCLC, which is important because NTRK is mutually exclusive with other oncogenic drivers. This is why I say this is an area of unmet need for targetable therapies.

Could you discuss tumor mutational burden (TMB) and how it’s being investigated as a potential biomarker?

Previously, when we were diagnosing metastatic NSCLC, one of the markers to check was PD-1/PD-L1 expression of the tumor. There have been times when that has been a little bit frustrating, as it is not a perfect predictor of how the patient is going to respond to therapy. By using TMB, the theory was that this would increase the immunogenicity of the patient's tumors.
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