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Gene Test Could Boost Myeloma Treatment

Certain DNA influences who'll respond best to therapy, scientists say

THURSDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Analyzing the activity of a small subset of genes may help identify patients with the worst cases of multiple myeloma, U.S. researchers say.

It may also help guide their treatment, noted the team from the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer that affects the blood plasma cells in bone marrow that produce antibodies. There is wide variation in how well multiple myeloma patients respond to treatment.

This study included 532 patients who were followed for seven years after they had a blood stem cell transplant. The researchers created a genetic profile of each patient to chart the severity of their multiple myeloma.

They found that the activity of as few as 17 genes could determine whether a patient was at high or low risk for a poor prognosis.

The findings were to be presented this week at an American Association for Cancer Research conference in Atlanta.

"There are enormous differences between how different people fare with multiple myeloma. While most do very well, others have a highly aggressive form of the disease, and this is not recognized well with current prognostic variables," lead researcher John D. Shaughnessy Jr., a professor of medicine at the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, said in a prepared statement.

"If we can categorize a patient's risk early, we can better guide that patient toward therapies that might be more effective for them based on the genetic profile of the disease," he explained.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about multiple myeloma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Sept. 18, 2007

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