Verastem Oncology is committed to the development and commercialization of new medicines to improve the lives of patients diagnosed with cancer. We believe the best way for us to help patients living with cancer is by discovering newly emerging mechanisms of the disease and developing novel therapies that target them. Our focus is targeting cancer cells both directly as well as indirectly by way of the tumor microenvironment in the following disease areas:

Featured Disease Focus

Non small cell cancer patient

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

There are two main types of lung cancer:

NSCLC is any type of epithelial lung cancer other than SCLC. The most common types of NSCLC are squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, but there are several other types that occur less frequently, and all types can occur in unusual histologic variants. Although NSCLCs are associated with cigarette smoke, adenocarcinomas may be found in patients who have never smoked.

NSCLC arises from the epithelial cells of the lung within the central bronchi to terminal alveoli. The histological type of NSCLC correlates with site of origin, reflecting the variation in respiratory tract epithelium of the bronchi to alveoli. Squamous cell carcinoma usually originates near a central bronchus. Adenocarcinoma and bronchioloalveolar carcinoma usually originate in peripheral lung tissue

Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread, but some people with early lung cancer do have symptoms. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
  • New onset of wheezing
Pancreatic cancer doctor patient

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer arises when cells in the pancreas, a glandular organ behind the stomach, begin to multiply out of control and form a mass. There are a number of types of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, surpassing breast cancer. The most common, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, accounts for about 85 percent of cases, and the term “pancreatic cancer” is sometimes used to refer only to that type. These adenocarcinomas start within the part of the pancreas that makes digestive enzymes. Several other types of cancer, which collectively represent the majority of the non-adenocarcinomas, can also arise from these cells. One-to-two percent of cases of pancreatic cancer are neuroendocrine tumors, which arise from the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas. These are generally less aggressive than pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Signs and symptoms of the most common form of pancreatic cancer may include yellow skin, abdominal or back pain, unexplained weight loss, light-colored stools, dark urine and loss of appetite. There are usually no symptoms in the disease’s early stages, and symptoms that are specific enough to suggest pancreatic cancer typically do not develop until the disease has reached an advanced stage. By the time of diagnosis, pancreatic cancer has often spread to other parts of the body.

Ovarian Cancer patient

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which, depending on the type and stage of the disease, malignant (cancerous) cells are found inside, near, or on the outer layer of the ovaries. The term ovarian cancer includes several different types of cancer (uncontrolled division of abnormal cells that can form tumors) that all arise from cells of the ovary. Most commonly, tumors arise from the epithelium, or lining cells, of the ovary. These include epithelial ovarian (from the cells on the surface of the ovary), fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal (the lining inside the abdominal cavity that coats many abdominal structures) cancers.

In women ages 35-74, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. An estimated one woman in 75 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime.

Ovarian cancer (known as the disease that “whispers”) may not cause any specific symptoms, particularly in its early stages. When it does cause symptoms, these may be nonspecific and vague. Symptoms can include:

  • abdominal enlargement or swelling,
  • abdominal fullness, bloating
  • early satiety (feeling full early),
  • changes in bowel or bladder habits, or
  • lower back pain
  • vaginal bleeding

Other signs and symptoms can include shortness of breath, leg swelling and pain in the abdomen or pelvis. Fatigue may be present, but it is considered another nonspecific symptom.

Low-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (LGSOC) represents approximately 10% of ovarian cancer with a significant prevalence of KRAS mutation (19-55%). LGSOC is associated with a younger age at diagnosis (median age, 45–57 years), slower growth, and resistance to chemotherapy.

Colorectal cancer doctor patient

Colorectal cancer (CRC)

Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine). CRC is more common in developed countries, where more than 65% of cases are found. It is less common in women than men. Approximately 30-50% of colorectal tumors are known to have a mutated (abnormal) KRAS gene.

Colorectal cancer often begins as a growth called a noncancerous polyp inside the colon or rectum. These often have no symptoms but can be detected by screening. For this reason, doctors recommend screening those at high risk or over the age of 50. Finding and removing polyps can prevent colorectal cancer. Some commonly experienced symptoms of CRC include changes in bowel habits, changes in stool consistency, blood in the stool, and abdominal discomfort.

T cell lymphomas

T-cell lymphomas (TCL)

T-cell lymphomas (TCL) account for approximately 15 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL) in the United States. There are many different forms of T-cell lymphomas, some of which are extremely rare. T-cell lymphomas can be aggressive (fast-growing) or indolent (slow-growing).

Lymphomas are often, but not always, named from a description of the normal cell that leads to cancer. The general term peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) refers to the entire group of mature or “post-thymic” T-cell lymphomas (arise from mature T-cells), which distinguishes them from the “immature” or “pre-thymic” PTCLs such as acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) or lymphoblastic lymphoma. Almost all types of T-cell lymphoma fall under the category of PTCL.

PTCL consists of a group of rare and usually aggressive (fast-growing) NHLs that develop from mature T cells. Most T-cell lymphomas are PTCLs, which collectively account for about 10 percent to 15 percent of all NHL cases in the United States.

Most Common Subtypes of T-cell Lymphomas

  • Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma
  • Angioimmunoblastic Lymphoma
  • Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma
  • Anaplastic cell Lymphoma

Less Common Subtypes of T-cell Lymphomas

  • Adult T-cell Leukemia/Lymphoma (ATLL)
  • Blastic NK-cell Lymphoma
  • Enteropathy-type T-cell lymphoma
  • Hematosplenic gamma-delta T-cell Lymphoma
  • Lymphoblastic Lymphoma
  • Nasal NK/T-cell Lymphomas
  • Treatment-related T-cell lymphomas