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New research provides hope for colorectal cancer patients

The Gut Cancer Foundation  has funded Professor Peter Shepherd and his team at Auckland University to study the the effect combining two widely available drugs (BRAF and VEGFR Inhibators) has on certain forms of colorectal (bowel) cancer, when compared with treating with one drug alone.

The team's research has particularly focused on a form of colorectal cancer driven by mutations in the BRAF gene. This is of particular importance as this group of colorectal cancer patients usually have the worst outcomes with standard therapies.

The results of this vital research indicate that the combination of drugs (trialed in laboratory conditions), are more successful in treating the 10% of colon cancers that are driven by mutations in the BRAF gene, than existing single drug approaches. Professor Shepherd said "These result support previous work funded by the Gut Cancer Foundation and provides solid evidence to support human clinical trials of these two drugs together to be used, specifically in patients whose tumours contain a BRAF mutation. This represents about 10% of all colorectal cancers and is important as people with such tumours have worse clinical outcomes and hence the need for improved treatment.

GCF Executive Officer Liam Willis said "We are excited by the results of Professor Shepherd's research. We recognise that there are still several steps to find out if these results will translate into better outcomes for patients with these BRAF mutant bowel cancers. However, the drugs used are already licensed for use in people, so adoption would be much quicker than for totally new drugs".

GCF is grateful to the Ted and Mollie Carr Fund and Estate of Ernest Davis through Perpetual Guardian, for their support of this research.

Click here for a detailed overview of the research project and its findings.