The Fertility Show, Manchester Central, 24-25 March 2018
Page URL:

Genetic test may help to predict treatment success in breast cancer

16 May 2011
Appeared in BioNews 607

US scientists have designed a genetic test which could predict how a patient with breast cancer responds to chemotherapy. Researchers say the test, which works for those with certain newly diagnosed forms of cancer, could help women avoid unnecessary chemotherapy.

‘For some patients it would provide an affirmation that chemotherapy would really help them. For others, the results may suggest a less robust response to chemotherapy', said Professor Fraser Symmans, of the University of Texas and lead author of the study.

The study spanned ten years and enrolled 310 women undergoing chemotherapy for invasive HER2 negative - Herceptin unresponsive breast cancer. The women were tested for resistance to chemotherapy and then after three years the researchers assessed patient survival and tested their DNA for genetic markers, which could be correlated to their treatment response.

The team identified  genetic markers, which it believed could predict whether the cancer would respond to hormone therapy or whether the cancer would be resistant to chemotherapy. The genetic marker screen was then used on 198 new patients to see if it could predict the outcome of treatment.

Of the women the test predicted would respond to chemotherapy, 92 percent survived three years without a relapse. They represented an 18 percent lower risk of death compared to those the test identified chemotherapy as an unsuitable course of treatment.

'This result doesn't necessarily mean women should abandon chemotherapy completely, but that they perhaps should consider an additional or alternative treatment', said Professor Symmans.

While the team admits the results are still preliminary, it believes it could be another step towards personalised treatment. Some remain skeptical, however. The test, while promising, is 'not ready for patients', stated Professor Massimo Cristofanilli, chairman of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Nor does it predict which therapy will be best, he added.

The test was developed jointly by researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Centre, University of Texas, and Nuvera Biosciences in Massachusetts. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A Genomic Predictor of Response and Survival Following Taxane-Anthracycline Chemotherapy for Invasive Breast Cancer
JAMA |  11 May 2011
Breast test 'could prevent needless chemo'
Nursing Times |  9 May 2011
Genetic information may help predict likelihood of survival following chemotherapy for breast cancer
EurekAlert press release |  11 May 2011
Genetic Test Helps Predict Chemotherapy Success in Breast Cancer
San Francisco Chronicle |  10 May 2011
Genetic Test Shows Promise in Guiding Breast Cancer Care
US News and World Report |  10 May 2011
New Test May Predict Success of Chemo for Breast Cancer
My Health News Daily |  10 May 2011
13 August 2012 - by Dr Caroline Hirst 
Chemotherapy can produce a rogue response that eventually leads to tumours becoming resistant to treatment, scientists have found...
2 July 2012 - by Dr Zara Mahmoud 
A test which screens for levels of gene expression may help reduce the number of patients with benign thyroid cancer who are put forward for unnecessary surgery...
15 May 2012 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Stem cells transplanted into the brain may offer protection against the side effects of chemotherapy, say US researchers...
31 January 2012 - by Maria Botcharova 
Two breast cancer drugs, Avastin and Sutent, may inadvertently aid cancer growth, a study in mice suggests. The drugs, designed to reduce the blood supply to tumours, were found to encourage cancer stem cell growth, potentially fuelling the spread of the cancer...
5 December 2011 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Two gene rearrangements associated with prostate and lung cancer could also be behind five to seven percent of all breast cancers, according to US scientists...
5 September 2011 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
UK women at high risk of breast cancer could halve their chances of developing the disease with genetic risk testing during routine NHS screening. This news came from PROCAS - the world's first study into giving genetic risk and prevention advice in a national breast screening programme, and was reported in this Sunday's Express....
22 August 2011 - by Daniel Malynn 
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is this summer's big blockbuster and is directed by Rupert Wyatt. The film is a prequel to the other Planet of the Apes films and charts how the apes came to revolt. The basic storyline is thus; Dr Will Rodman (James Franco) is testing a gene therapy called ALZ-112 on chimps to find a cure for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's...
7 March 2011 - by Dr Jay Stone 
Scientists at Queen's University, Belfast, have developed a new targeted gene therapy for the treatment of breast cancer....
9 August 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard 
A UK study has revealed that breast cancer patients who have the POLQ gene are eight times more likely to suffer from recurrence after treatment compared to patients who do not carry the gene....
21 June 2010 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
A new US study has found a gene mutation that can increase the risk of developing blood clots in breast cancer patients undergoing treatment with the drug tamoxifen....
5 June 2010 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Cancer patients in the UK are to be treated with drugs specific to the genetic make-up of their individual tumours. A new initiative, to be launched by the NHS this autumn, will test the tumours of up to 6000 cancer patients a year for known genetic mutations....
29 March 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco are about to begin a groundbreaking new breast cancer trial designed to speed up the drugs discovery process and cut the delivery time of new personalised cancer therapies...
8 March 2010 - by Dr Sophie Pryor 
Scientists have developed a way to identify six key genes which, if faulty, can prevent particular chemotherapy drugs from working in patients with breast cancer. The findings bring cancer therapy one step closer to the promise of targeted treatments for patients, based on the genetic characteristics of their tumours....
1 March 2010 - by Rose Palmer 
A personalised blood test that could track how a tumour responds to treatment and whether cancer is recurring has been developed by researchers in the U.S...
29 January 2010 - by Dr Charlotte Maden 
Researchers in the US have found that they can predict how well breast cancer patients respond to a type of chemotherapy based on certain genes. The findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, highlight the potential for personalised cancer therapies in the near future....
Log in 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.