Mayo Clinic Cancer Center researchers identify promising drug to treat gastrointestinal cancers

By Joe Dangor

Gastrointestinal cancers are some of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, and they continue to be associated with poor survival outcomes. The drug adagrasib specifically targets the KRASG12C gene mutation that is common in gastrointestinal cancers and inhibits gastrointestinal function.

Tanios Bekaii-Saab, M.D., an investigator from Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, has conducted research on adagrasib that has demonstrated promising clinical activity in patients with gastrointestinal cancers that harbor KRAS G12C mutations, including pancreatic cancer, biliary tract cancer and other upper gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Bekaii-Saab recently presented the results of this research as part of the KRYSTAL-1 clinical trial (NCT03785249) at the American Society of Clinic Oncology's Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

"The prognosis for patients whose cancer harbors a KRAS gene mutation is particularly poor, and researchers' attempts to target KRAS G12C, which represents less than 5% of all KRAS mutations in this group of cancers, have failed until only recently," says Dr. Bekaii-Saab.

"Our data recently presented at ASCO GI (the symposium) showed that adagrasib not only inhibits cancers with a KRASG12C mutation effectively, but also showed promising clinical activity in patients with gastrointestinal cancers."

Dr. Bekaii-Saab says the gastrointestinal cancers for all patients treated in this phase 2 cohort were controlled, with close to half showing evidence of significant and durable tumor shrinkage.

"These results were very impressive in treating a group of diseases that tend to have a particularly poor outcome," says Dr. Bekaii-Saab. "We were pleasantly surprised by these findings, given that our previous experience with another similar agent was disappointing in this particular group of patients."

He says research with adagrasib is ongoing. If these trends continue, the drug may eventually prove to be a new option for patients with pancreatic, biliary tract and other gastrointestinal cancers.

This article was originally published as a news release on the Mayo Clinic News Network.