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Alexander Drilon, MD

Gregory J. Riely, MD, PhD


Examining the Influence of NTRK Gene Fusions in Solid Tumors

By: Emily Rhode
Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2022

Research published in the journal Investigational New Drugs found no statistically significant associations between NTRK gene fusion and progression-free survival in patients with solid tumors. David S. Hong, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and colleagues, also identified numerous novel NTRK fusions not previously reported in the literature.

“Nonsignificant statistical trends estimated increases in the risk of progression or death events for patients with NTRK fusions when compared to matched controls. In addition, we characterized the clinical and molecular features of 77 patients with solid tumors harboring NTRK fusions, to date the largest such population at a single site,” the authors concluded.

The researchers used a variety of molecular profiling tools to identify a total of 77 MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) patients with solid tumors containing NTRK gene fusions. They then compared the NTRK fusion–positive patients with a cohort of 4,630 patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) who had a cancer histology in common with at least one MDACC patient. A matched cohort was identified based on identical histology, pathological stage at diagnosis, and sex. Because this initial matched cohort was histologically imbalanced, a second and smaller matched cohort was selected from the first.

Median progression-free survival for the 25 MDACC patients with NTRK fusions was 786 weeks (95% confidence interval [CI] = 317–NE months). No median progression-free survival could be calculated for the TCGA patients lacking NTRK fusions. Both univariate analysis and multiple regression adjusting for stage and age showed no significant difference in progression-free survival in the two cohorts (P = .49 and P = .59, respectively). There was an adjusted hazard ratio trend toward a reduced rate of disease progression or death for TCGA patients (HR = .72; 95% CI = .23–2.33).

The lack of TCGA data for rare cancers, the diversity of tumor types in the analysis, and the scarcity of disease progression events or deaths in early-stage cancers limited the analysis of the researchers. They posit that further studies will look to identify a larger cohort of patients with NTRK tumors.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information can be found at

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