New gene test could hold key to chemotherapy receptiveness
Scientists develop new gene test which could identify usefulness of chemotherapy drugs before they are given
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By Darren Estwick.
Monday, 01, Mar 2010 12:36
By Sarah Garrod.
A new gene test investigated by scientists is said to be able to predict how well a cancer patient with respond to chemotherapy.
It is hoped the new test could mean patients do not have to undertake unnecessary treatment as it will determine whether they are likely to respond to the use of Taxol before it is administered.
Cancer Research has said the test "opens the doors for targeted breast cancer treatment". The research was published today in the Lancet Oncology and conducted by an international team of scientists led by Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute.
The researchers found a method to scan 829 genes found in breast cancer tumour cells. They selected those which if missing or faulty would prevent a chemotherapy drug called paclitaxel (Taxol), from working effectively in patients with breast cancer.
They narrowed the search down to find six genes which if faulty prevent Taxol from working effectively in breast cancer cells in the laboratory. These genes could be used to identify which patients would respond to the drug before they are exposed to treatment.
Lead author Dr Charles Swanton, head of translational cancer therapeutics at Cancer Research UK's London Research Institute, said: "A great challenge in cancer medicine is determining which patients will benefit from particular cancer drugs and it is hoped that this research is a step towards more rapid developments in this type of personalised medicine."
More than 45,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year - and it is estimated that around 15 per cent of these women are prescribed with the Taxol drug. The researchers estimate from this small study that they could spare the prescription of less effective treatment to half of patients currently receiving this drug.
Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK's director of cancer information, said: "This important research shows the impact that discoveries in the lab can have in the development of better ways to treat patients.
"New techniques such as these can enable drugs to be tailored to individual patients, and this could potentially improve cancer survival in the long term."