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Researchers map the way to personalised treatment for ovarian cancer
Date:11/16/2010

Researchers have shown that point mutations mis-spellings in a single letter of genetic code that drive the onset and growth of cancer cells can be detected successfully in advanced ovarian cancer using a technique called OncoMap. The finding opens the way for personalised medicine in which every patient could have their tumour screened, specific mutations identified, and the appropriate drug chosen to target the mutation and halt the growth of their cancer.

Using mass spectrometry for identifying the genetic make-up of cancer cells, OncoMap can determine the point mutations in a large panel of over 100 known cancer-causing genes (oncogenes) in tumours. In the work to be presented today (Wednesday) at the 22nd EORTC-NCI-AACR [1] Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Berlin, researchers will describe how they used OncoMap to identify mutations in oncogenes in tumour samples from women with advanced high-grade serous ovarian cancer. Earlier in the year 76 mutations in 26 different genes had been found but, since then, further work in more tumour samples has found more.

Dr Ursula Matulonis, director/program leader in medical gynaecologic oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston (Massachusetts, USA) and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will tell the meeting: "Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all the gynaecologic malignancies, and new treatments are needed for both newly diagnosed patients as well as patients with recurrent cancer. The success of conventional chemotherapy has reached a plateau, and new means of characterising ovarian cancer so that treatment can be personalised are needed.

"We know that many human cancers have point mutations in certain oncogenes, and that these mutations can cause cancer cells to have a dependence on just one overactive gene or signalling pathway for the cancer cell's growth and survival a phenomenon known as 'oncogene addiction
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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