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New view of stomach cancer could hasten better therapies
Date:7/23/2014

biology of stomach cancer and the development of new therapies has been difficult because of its diversity and the presence of different pathological forms. "It is a very heterogeneous disease, but most clinical trials have taken a one-size fits all approach and attempted to find a single optimal therapy to apply across gastric cancer," said Bass. "This traditional approach has likely contributed to the slow progress we have made in treatments for this cancer."

The new study is part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, a federally funded initiative that involves large international groups of researchers and centers that are cataloging genomic characteristics across a spectrum of different forms of cancer with the goal of creating a new foundation of understanding of these cancers, enabling improvements in diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

The gastric cancer research team collected fresh, frozen tissue specimens and blood samples from 295 patients from hospitals around the world who had not been treated with chemotherapy or radiation. The tissue specimens were analyzed with six different molecular analysis technologies. Among them: sequencing the protein-coding DNA in each tumor; detecting mutations or missing or extra copies of gene sequences; determining the methylation status of DNA (chemical changes affecting gene activity); sequencing the messenger RNA and microRNA in the tumors, and assessing expression of key proteins.

When computational methods were applied to the large amount of resulting data, the cancers fell into four subtypes:

  • Tumors containing the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), along with mutations in the PIK3CA gene pathway, extreme DNA hypermethylation, and extra copies of PD-L1 and PD-L2 genes. This group made up about 10 percent of the cancers. Bass said these results suggest that inhibitors of the PI3-K pathway could have great utility in these cancers. Furthermore, he said, the findings of elevate
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Contact: Anne Doerr
anne_doerr@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-4090
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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