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Gene change identifies brain cancer patients that respond better to treatment
Date:5/31/2011

A tentative indication that MGMT methylation status might have prognostic importance emerged from an earlier retrospective study sponsored by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).

The current study (RTOG 0525) validates that finding. Patients with tumors carrying the methylated gene had an overall survival of 21 months versus 14 months for those with the unmethylated gene. The difference in progression-free survival the period after treatment during which cancer does not worsen was 8.7 months and 5.7 months for methylated versus unmethylated tumors respectively. The narrow difference, Chakravarti says, indicates that patients with the methylated gene had slower growing tumors.

About 18,500 new cases of glioblastoma multiforme are expected annually in the U.S., and 12,760 Americans are expected to die of the disease. Symptoms often include headache, seizures and motor or sensory changes. A brain scan detects the tumor. After a surgeon removes the tumor, it can be tested for MGMT methylation.

"Patients with the methylated gene could receive the standard treatment, radiation therapy plus the chemotherapeutic drug temozolomide," Chakravarti says. "Those with an unmethylated gene might receive an experimental treatment through a clinical trial."

Research is now needed, he says, to learn whether MGMT contributes directly to tumor aggressiveness, or whether it is just an indicator of other changes that cause tumor aggressiveness. "If the gene itself helps cause aggressive disease, MGMT or related DNA repair pathways might be an important targets for a novel therapies," Chakravarti says.


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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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