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Protein shines light on cancer response
Date:2/24/2008

A technique that specifically tags tumors responding to chemotherapy may offer a new strategy for determining a cancer treatments effectiveness within days of starting treatment, according to a new study by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center investigators.

Appearing online ahead of print in Nature Medicine, the researchers report the identification of a small protein that specifically recognizes tumors responding to chemotherapy. They show that the protein, when tagged with a light-emitting molecule, can be used to visualize cancer response in mice just two days after starting therapy.

Improved monitoring of tumor response could help customize patient treatment and also speed up the development of new cancer drugs, said senior investigator Dennis Hallahan, M.D., the Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and chair of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Currently, response to chemotherapy is determined by measuring changes in tumor size with imaging techniques like CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

It takes two to three months of cancer therapy before we can determine whether the therapy has been effective for a patient, he said. If we can get that answer within one to two days, we can switch that patient to an alternative regimen very quickly.

Rapid assessment of tumor response is especially important now, Hallahan says, given recent advances in molecular targeted therapies chemotherapy medications that specifically interfere with the growth and proliferation of cancer cells while avoiding damage to healthy cells.

We now have so many molecular targeted drugs to choose from, and that number is growing every year, so we are now at a point where a patient can be switched from one regimen to another, he said. But we need the tools to make the decision to use an alternative therapy with the patient.

To find a rapid and noninvasive method to assess cancer
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Contact: Craig Boerner
craig.boerner@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-4747
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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