Use of Biomarkers to Optimize Treatment of NSCLC


Benjamin Cooper, MD, Director of Proton Therapy at NYU Langone Health, discusses how physicians who treat patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) can use genetic profiling results to select effective therapy. Although the current list of therapies is not applicable to all genetic mutations, there are approved treatments for several biomarkers and agents targeting other biomarkers are in clinical trials.

Dr. Cooper explains that biomarkers in NSCLC either boost the immune system’s capability to destroy oncogenes or they block driver and escape mutations that advance disease.

Immunotherapies that target either PD-1 or PD-L1 are now mainstays of NSCLC treatment. To gauge whether these therapies have potential effectiveness for a given patient, oncologists test for the presence of PD-L1 in the tumor. Higher expression of PD-L1 indicates stronger potential response to therapy.

Dr. Cooper then turns to a discussion of oncogenic driver mutations, focusing on EGFR, ALK, ROS1, BRAF, NTRK, RET, MET, KRAS, and HER2. Although there are hundreds of oncogenic driver mutations, not all are currently actionable. Effective therapy options have been available for EGFR, ALK, and BRAF for more than a decade, and treatments for other drivers such as NTRK, MET, KRAS, and HER2 have shown promising results in recent trials.


Benjamin Cooper, MD is an Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Director, Proton Therapy Services, NYU Grossman School of Medicine,

New York, New York

Benjamin Cooper, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:

Serve(d) as a director, officer, partner, employee, advisor, consultant, or trustee for: AstraZeneca.

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