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Two-pronged approach could curb many cases of lung cancer

For more than three decades, scientists have tried, with little success, to target the mutant KRAS oncogene with drugs. So instead, some researchers have tried to target related biological pathways.

One such pathway involves insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which influence the uptake and release of nutrients and ultimately cell growth. But this pathway has not been definitively proven to fuel KRAS-driven lung cancers, and inhibitors of IGF-1 signaling have so far failed in clinical trials. In fact, a recent study in mice actually saw lung tumors become more aggressive. However, this study targeted insulin/IGF-1 signaling only partially.

In the new study, researchers used genetic techniques to completely block insulin/IGF-1 signaling, providing the best test ground yet for studying the pathway's role in KRAS-driven lung cancer . The model establishes that completely blocking the pathway can slow tumor growth—but also demonstrates the need for a second step to fully suppress it.