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Personalized medicine: Tumor analysis reveals new opportunities for existing cancer drugs
Date:11/16/2010

lised medicine is to understand an individual patient's cancer and select therapies that are most likely to benefit the patient; however, today most patients do not undergo any genetic testing of their tumours. We sought to understand the opportunity to use DNA amplifications, one type of cancer-causing mutation, to select existing targeted therapies that would be most likely to benefit cancer patients.

"We studied 22 genes that are targeted by therapies, either approved or in clinical trials, and found that the targets often show high-level amplifications in small subsets of patients and that particular cancer types show more frequent amplifications, for instance cancers of the brain (21.4% of cases) and breast (23.2% of cases). Our work suggests that some cancer patients should be tested for DNA amplifications and that small subsets of cancer patients harbour specific DNA amplifications that might indicate potential benefit from an existing therapy. We caution that we have not demonstrated that the targeted therapies will benefit all cancer patients with a DNA amplification, but we suspect, given past clinical trials and experimental studies, that some DNA amplifications will be predictive of therapeutic benefit for some patients."

The researchers studied the genes in tumours from 4,086 patients and found 592 significant DNA amplifications in 438 cancer patients, suggesting that 5-10% of cancer patients might be suitable for treatment with an existing targeted therapy. In addition to brain and breast cancers, they found significant amplifications in cancer of the colon (5.8%), lung (5.8%), ovary (4%) and pancreas (3%). They were rare or non-existent in liver cancer, leukaemia and myeloma. As might be expected, amplifications of the HER2 gene were found in breast cancer (13.7% frequency), at which the drug trastuzumab is targeted, but it was also found in small subsets of colorectal (1.3%) and lung (0.9%) cancer patients. There were examples of ot
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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