Specific chemical modifications to proteins called histones, which are found in the nucleus of cells and act as spools around which DNA is wound, can be used to predict prognosis and response to treatment in subsets patients with pancreatic cancer, a study by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has found.
High levels of two specific histone modifications in tumor cells of patients who underwent surgical resection of their pancreatic cancer predicted those patients more likely to derive survival benefit from the commonly used chemotherapy drug Fluorouracil, or 5-FU. Along with Gemcitabine, 5-FU is a common chemotherapy used to treat patients with pancreatic cancer, the fourth deadliest cancer in the United States.
"These histone modifications were useful in predicting whether or not a patient was likely to respond favorably to 5-FU" said Dr. David Dawson, an assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, senior author of the study and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher. "Using a specially devised test and algorithm, we were able to discriminate two groups of pancreatic cancer patients who were more or less likely to have longer disease-free remissions and overall survival."
The histone modifications themselves also may prove to be future targets for drug therapies, Dawson said.
The study, which needs to be validated in a prospective study, was published this week in the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Jonsson Cancer Center researchers, led by Dr. Siavash Kurdistani and Dr. David Seligson, developed and patented the immunohistochemistry assay, or antibody test, to measure the levels of the specific histone modifications within cells. The rights to that technology have been licensed by an outside company.
Kurdistani and Seligson, also authors on the study, previously used the test to identify the same histone modifications in subsets of patients with prosta
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University of California - Los Angeles