Head and neck cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide, and squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) account for the majority of these cases. In a new study, based on preclinical research and published July 29, 2020 in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center report that an investigational drug candidate called tipifarnib showed promise in treating HNSCC tumors with mutations in the HRAS gene.
The findings shed new light on the HRAS gene, a member of the RAS family of genes that produce proteins that regulate a variety of cellular processes, including growth, movement and differentiation. In 4 to 8 percent of HNSCC tumors, the HRAS gene is mutated.
“This preclinical research has the potential to extend to the entire HNSCC patient community, whose overall survival rates are limited in recurrent or metastatic disease, and existing therapeutic options that are far from optimal, with response rates of roughly 10 to 20 percent,” said senior co-author J. Silvio Gutkind, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and associate director of basic science at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.
“These preclinical findings support the idea that HRAS represents a druggable oncogene in HNSCC through tipifarnib’s inhibition of a