Taken orally, the drug targets what are known as RET-driven cancers, including types of thyroid and lung cancers, which are normally hard to treat.
RET is a type of receptor tyrosine kinase, and mutations that kick its activity into overdrive are linked to certain kinds of cancer. Among others, RET plays a role in around 50 percent of medullary thyroid cancers, 20 percent of papillary thyroid cancers, and up to two percent of non-small cell lung cancers. These can be treated with conventional methods, although so far success hasn't been stellar.
"There is a critical un-met need for effective drugs against cancers that have the RET alteration, as there are no highly potent inhibitors currently approved specifically for these RET-driven cancers," says Vivek Subbiah, lead researcher on the study.