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ALK Fusion Clinical Trials
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ALK Fusion Clinical Trials

Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) fusion is a genetic mutation in the ALK gene that is responsible for making a protein called ALK receptor tyrosine kinase. An ALK fusion is when the rearrangement of the gene EML4 and ALK fuse together, creating an oncogene EML4-ALK. ALK fusions can be a predictive biomarker for the effective use of certain targeted drug therapies, so it is important for patients to know if they have an ALK fusion. Patients without an ALK fusion will likely not respond to targeted ALK inhibitor drug therapies. ALK fusion clinical trials study the ALK inhibiting drugs that are available to treat patients who have this gene alteration.

ALK fusion clinical trials commonly target to treat malignant solid tumors, which are cancerous tumors that do not contain cysts or liquid area. Examples of solid tumors include:

  • Sarcomas
  • Carcinomas
  • Lymphomas

ALK fusion clinical trials are currently studying ALK inhibitor drug therapies. An ALK inhibiting drug inhibits proteins involved in the abnormal growth of tumor cells, which is why these drugs are more effective for patients with this gene alteration. Drug therapies being studied in clinical trials include:

  • Alectinib
  • Brigatinib
  • Crizotinib
  • Ceritinib
  • Lorlatinib
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Ensartinib
  • Rituximab
  • Doxorubicin
  • Nivolumab

Testing for ALK Fusion

Cancer patients will be tested for ALK fusions if their doctor performs Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to see if they would respond successfully to an ALK inhibitor drug therapy. Genetic testing for cancer patients can be beneficial, as there are many targeted drug therapies for biomarkers other than ALK fusions. Testing for ALK fusions usually coincides with testing for other gene mutations, such as ROS1 and EFGR mutations in non-small cell lung cancer. There are a few methods that are used to test for ALK mutations:

  • Next generation sequencing (NGS): detects ALK fusions and the fusion partner gene
  • Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH): looks for gene rearrangement, and is a common test used to look for ALK fusion
  • Immunohistochemistry (IHC): detects the altered ALK protein
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR): detects known ALK fusions, but not new fusions

Resources:

ALK gene: MedlinePlus Genetics

ALK Fusion – My Cancer Genome

ALK Mutation (Gene Rearrangement) | Lab Tests Online

Definition of solid tumor – NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms – National Cancer Institute

What is ALK-positive lung cancer? By the ALK Positive Community — ALK POSITIVE

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