New Drug Holds Promise in Targeting Cancer Cells with Genetic Vulnerability


A new drug called MRTX1719 has shown potential in clinical trials for solid tumors by selectively killing cancer cells that lack specific tumor suppressor genes, according to an invited review article published in Cancer Discovery. Kathleen Mulvaney, an assistant professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, discusses the drug’s potential to target cancers with a genetic vulnerability, specifically the absence of tumor suppressor gene CDKN2A and its neighbor gene, MTAP. These missing genes can lead to uncontrolled cell growth, but MRTX1719 exploits this weakness to fight the cancer cells.

The drug, which targets the PRMT5 enzyme, has shown promise in early testing for patients with specific types of cancers, such as melanoma, gallbladder cancer, mesothelioma, lung cancer, and MPNST. Previous versions of PRMT5 inhibitors faced toxicity issues, but the new class of MTA-cooperative PRMT5 inhibitors, including MRTX1719, have demonstrated efficacy in killing tumors while sparing normal human cells. Mulvaney’s research lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute is part of a collaborative effort with Children’s National Hospital and the Virginia Tech Cancer Research Alliance.


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