Matching the Drug to the Tumor
By Jack Lucentini

When scientists at Bristol-Myers Squibb Research Institute in Princeton, NJ, recently studied whether a new drug could fight colorectal cancer, they started with an unusual assumption: It wouldn't help most patients. They bet that the drug, cetuximab, would benefit just a fraction of sufferers.

That's the new thinking in much cancer research: Drugs often work best when targeted to patients with specific molecular tumor profiles, says David J. Mauro, director of medical strategy at the institute. Those patients might be just a small percentage of those with a particular cancer.

Big pharmaceutical companies are starting to invest in this approach, though universities have done so to some extent for several years, says Mauro. "Pharmaceutical companies are becoming more convinced...

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