FDA Approved A New Drug That Fights Cancer By Targeting Genetic Mutations
When it comes to cancer, we have a few ways to fight it. Radiation therapy that can be even more harmful to the body is employed. A great majority of the drugs also treat only the symptoms of cancer, but never cancer itself. Is there any other tool at our disposal?
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has, as with many other drugs, made a decision that the American people might not be too hip on.
The FDA usually makes the choice to approve a drug for any cancer based not on the types of tumors they cause, but by a specific genetic mutation. This is only the second time in the administration’s history that it has approved a drug based on the mutation it targets.
Vitrakvi, as the drug is named, was created by Loxo Oncology in a joint effort with pharmaceutical giant Bayer. This is the first time Loxo’s had a drug approved.
Vitrakvi carries an insanely high cost of $393,000 a year. According to Bayer, “The mutation that the drug targets is found in 2,500 to 3,000 new patients per year.”
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb saw a positive future for the drug. “Today’s approval marks another step in an important shift toward treating cancers based on their tumor genetics rather than their site of origin in the body.”
Targeting specific mutations in cancer treatment is new ground, but because many forms of cancer have similar genetic markers, Loxo’s drug may be able to help more than a select few.
Loxo Oncology released a statement about the promising results from human trials. “Out of 109 patients, 81% had an overall response rate, meaning their tumors shrank. In 17% of the cases, the patients had a complete response, meaning their tumors went away entirely.”
If Vitrakvi can do something as miraculous as shrink tumors to nothing, someone will find a way to make it cheaper. That way, everyone gets a fair shot at beating cancer.