Clinical Trial for Patients with the KRAS-variant and HNSCC


Here on, we’ve already discussed how the KRAS-variant plays a role in breast cancer risk, ovarian cancer risk, effects of HRT in the KRAS-variant patients, and even autoimmunity!

Now, we want to share with you continuing research investigating how the KRAS-variant is important in predicting how a cancer patient responds to cancer treatment, including a clinical trial that you, or someone you know, may be eligible for.

The KRAS-variant research and clinical trial are both focused on a type of cancer called Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC).

Squamous cells simply refer to the cells that are on the surface of the respiratory and digestive tracts. HNSCC refers specifically to the areas including the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, or mouth.

HNSCC is the 7th most common cancer worldwide, and while it occurs most often in men in their 50s or 60s, the incidence in younger people is rising. Many people associate head and neck cancers with tobacco use or heavy alcohol consumption, both of which are leading risk factors for the development of HNSCC. However, an infection with a virus, called Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), is also linked to the development of HNSCC, and it’s these cases that are increasing amongst younger individuals.

Surgery, radiation therapy, and whole-body treatments (including chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy) can all be used, alone or in various combinations, to treat HNSCC. The earlier the disease is caught, typically the easier it is to treat, but most people will be treated with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, letting them avoid surgery.

Dr. Weidhaas has published findings from a previous large clinical trial looking at how HNSCC patients with the KRAS-variant respond to a specific medicine called Cetuximab as a part of their cancer treatment. The paper showed that for HNSCC patients with the KRAS-variant, adding Cetuximab to their treatment with radiation therapy and cisplatin (a chemotherapy agent) really helped. Overall, for KRAS-variant patients, Cetuximab increased the chances of their cancer not coming back for a longer period of time (progression-free survival, PFS), and the chances of them being cured of the cancer (overall survival, OS).

Dr. Robert Chin, from UCLA, is now conducting another clinical trial to further confirm the benefits of Cetuximab with radiation and cisplatin specifically for KRAS-variant patients. This study is specifically looking for patients who have HPV-positive HNSCC AND who have the KRAS-variant. This is the first clinical trial ever offered just to KRAS-variant patients, which in itself is important for all KRAS-variant patients! More details and other eligibility requirements can be found on the university’s clinical trial page here.

If you, or someone you know, have HNSCC cancer, and have questions or would like to participate in the trial, please contact Dr. Chin’s clinical research team using the information below:

Clinical Research Team, (310) 825-6577
Research Coordinator Carol Felix (310)267-8994


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Any discussion of medical management options on this website is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute a medical recommendation. All medical management decisions should be made based on consultation between each patient and his or her healthcare professional.

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