ROS1 cancer patients set out to create disease models

A group of cancer patients with the ROS1 mutation has teamed up with a nonprofit and a precision medicine company to create disease models. The collaboration aims to drive forward research into treatments for cancers with the rare ROS1 gene mutation by gathering tissue samples from patients.

Patient group ROS1ders is organizing the project with the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI) and Champions Oncology. Members of the patient group will donate tissue taken during biopsies and surgeries. Champions will deploy its knowledge of creating patient-derived xenograft mouse models. And ALCMI will apply its experience from other geographically dispersed studies. 

“The study will use online enrollment methods developed by ALCMI for other research studies to enable participation by the global ROS1der community,” ALCMI President and COO Steven Young said in a statement.

This experience is important as the rareness of ROS1, which is found in multiple cancers but only in a few percent of patients, means the study will need to cast its net wide to collect samples. ALCMI, a nonprofit, will also run the study after working with ROS1ders to create the project. If the program succeeds, it will create mouse models and cell lines scientists can use to research new treatments for ROS1 cancers and better understand why tumors develop resistance to existing drugs.

Today, Pfizer’s Xalkori is the only drug approved by the FDA to specifically treat ROS1-positive tumors. Pfizer picked up the nod for the tyrosine kinase inhibitor in patients with ROS1-positive non-small cell lung cancer last year after putting it through a 50-patient, single-arm trial in the indication. The ROS1 approval came five years after the FDA cleared Xalkori for use in patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive tumors.   

Pfizer and its collaborators are testing Xalkori in other ROS1 indications. And the Big Pharma is also working on next-generation ALK/ROS1 inhibitor lorlatinib, which picked up breakthrough status from the FDA earlier this year. Drugs from Daiichi Sankyo, Exelixis, Ignyta and Novartis are also being tested in ROS1-positive patients.