Study opens the door for targeted therapies for rare women’s cancer

May 11, 2017

New research led by Dr. Johanne Weberpals is providing hope that women with a rare understudied cancer may soon gain access to new targeted therapies. Vulvar squamous cell carcinoma (VSCC) affects just one in 25,000 people, with about half of cases related to the human papilloma virus (HPV). No targeted therapies have been approved for the disease and the last clinical trial ended five years ago. Dr. Weberpals and her colleagues sequenced 50 genes from 43 VSCC patients - the most comprehensive study of its kind - and found that many of the cancers had mutations that might make them susceptible to experimental targeted therapies. For example, 14 percent of the patients with HPV-related VSCC had mutations in a gene called FGFR3, which is currently being targeted in clinical trials for other cancers. This research opens the door to testing FGFR3-targeted therapies and others in VSCC patients. See Clinical Cancer Research for details.

Authors: Weberpals JI, Lo B, Duciaume MM, Spaans JN, Clancy AA, Dimitroulakos J, Goss GD, Sekhon HS.

Funders: The Ottawa Hospital Foundation and The Ottawa Hospital Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

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