Kellie Carey was told she had three months to live after being diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2010. But she is still alive, a testament to a decade of progress in genetics research that is giving doctors new tools to treat lung cancer and other forms of the disease, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.
Carey's lung cancer is a rare type that researchers had found just three years earlier by deciphering its genetic code. The 45-year-old businesswoman went on a drug Pfizer
Inc. was testing for that type. By pinpointing her cancer, the drug likely extended her life more than chemotherapy would have, according to the report.
For decades, lung cancer drugs could barely extend an average patient's life by even a few weeks. But an explosion in knowledge about the genetic mutations that cause tumors is offering the first real promise that new drugs can treat the most common, deadly form of cancer, and may also lead to therapies for other cancers.
Janet Woodcock, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told The Journal the breakthroughs in gene-based therapies are nothing short of a revolution.
"What we're seeing is the beginning of a revolution in therapeutics," she said. "We can only hope that this gets us to where cancer is managed or curable."