Page URL:

Personalised cancer treatments show promise

4 May 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 256

Targeted cancer treatments, based on genetic profiling results, could soon become a reality. A team lead by researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in the US, has found that only lung tumours with a particular gene mutation are likely to respond to treatment with the drug gefitinib. The work is published in the early online edition of the journal Science. Another study, carried out by researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, shows that genetic profiling can help predict how breast cancer will progress in different patients. The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help doctors decide how best to treat patients, say the team.

The Dana-Farber scientists looked at non small cell lung cancer tumours (NSCLC), the most common form of lung cancer, from 58 Japanese and 61 US patients. They also recorded how well the patients had responded to gefitinib (trade name Iressa). The researchers tested the tumours for mutations in the EGFR gene, which makes a cell growth protein involved in NSCLC, called epidermal growth factor receptor. Gefitinib is designed to block the action of this protein, but has not been as effective as expected, based on preliminary trials carried out in Japan.

The new study found that only lung cancer tumours with mutations in the EGFR gene are likely to respond to gefitinib. This could explain its low success rate in other countries - the scientists found that 26 per cent of the Japanese patients had EGFR mutations, compared to only two per cent of the US patients. 'This is a huge deal', said team member Matthew Myerson, adding that it confirms that 'targeted therapy is going to work for major common tumours and not just rare ones'.

In the breast cancer study, researchers used 'gene chips' to look at the activity of thousands of genes in tumour samples from 158 women. They found that certain patterns of gene activity could predict a patient's prognosis, such as whether the cancer would return after treatment. The technique could help doctors decide how aggressively to treat a person's cancer, and which therapies might be most successful, says team leader Mike West. 'This study is the validation of the concept that this kind of molecular genetics information will have an impact on clinical decision making', he said.

Cancer treatments will be tailored to patients' genes
The Independent |  27 April 2004
Gene Predicts Cancer Drug Effectiveness |  29 April 2004
Gene trait boosts cancer therapy
BBC News Online |  1 May 2004
New Method Gives Cancer Patients Look Ahead-Study
Reuters |  26 April 2004
12 November 2007 - by Stuart Scott 
A large-scale American study has pinpointed a number of new regions within the genome associated with the development of lung cancer: the world's biggest cancer killer. Researchers hope their findings will lead to new and improved treatments. The $1million multi-centre study, published online in Nature, screened the...
15 April 2005 - by BioNews 
A new drug treatment could help treat breast cancer in women affected by the hereditary form of the disease, two studies show. The findings, published in the journal Nature, show that drugs which target a protein called poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP1) could be highly effective against tumours in patients...
23 June 2004 - by BioNews 
Research into pharmacogenetics - the use of genetic tests to match medicines to a person's genetic make-up - is to receive £4 million of funding, Health Minister Lord Warner announced last week. The cash will go to six different research projects, which include studies on medicines used to prevent blood clots, epilepsy...
17 March 2004 - by BioNews 
A new DNA 'chip' could pave the way for breast cancer treatments tailored to individual patients, according to French biotechnology company Ipsogen. Alane Koki, the firm's scientific director, told delegates attending the fourth European Breast Cancer Conference in Hamburg that the breast cancer profile chip (BCPC) could be available this...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.