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It’s been a busy week for a cancer drug target called PRMT5 that may play a role in treating a variety of solid tumors.

Amgen on Friday presented preliminary results from its first study of an experimental pill that selectively blocks the enzyme in cancer cells, showing five partial responses from 31 evaluable patients. The Amgen reveal followed the announcement on Sunday that a rival PRMT5 inhibitor being developed by Mirati Therapeutics factored into Bristol Myers Squibb’s decision to acquire the company.


Like other targeted cancer therapies, PRMT5 inhibitors are designed to kill tumor cells by exploiting specific genetic mutations. In healthy cells, PRMT5 is an enzyme that helps control essential cellular functions. But in certain solid tumors, the normal function of PRMT5 is hijacked by an alteration, or deletion, in two copies of a gene called MTAP, leading to the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells.

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