Neurofibromatosis as a gateway to better treatment for a variety of malignancies

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The neurofibromatoses (NF) are a group of rare genetic disorders that can affect all races equally at an incidence from 1:3000 (NF1) to a log unit lower for NF2 and schwannomatosis. Since the research community is reporting an increasing number of malignant cancers that carry mutations in the NF genes, the general interest of both the research and pharma community is increasing and the authors saw an opportunity to present a novel, fresh approach to drug discovery in NF.

The aim of the paper is to challenge the current drug discovery approach to NF, whereby existing targeted therapies that are either in the clinic or on the market for other disease indications are repurposed for NF. We offer a suggestion for an alternative drug discovery approach. In the new approach, selective and tolerable targeted therapies would be developed for NF and later expanded to patients with more complex diseases such as malignant cancer in which the NF downstream pathways are deregulated.

The Children's Tumor Foundation, together with some other major NF funders, is playing a key role in funding critical initiatives that will accelerate the development of better targeted therapies for NF patients, while these novel, innovative treatments could potentially be beneficial to molecularly characterized cancer patients in which NF mutations have been identified.

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