Cancer treatment with personalised approach to cancer patients

Recently researchers have profiled genetic changes in cancer with drug sensitivity in order to develop a personalised approach to cancer treatments. They uncovered hundreds of associations between mutations in cancer genes and sensitivity to anticancer drugs.

One of the key responses the researchers team found was that cells from a childhood bone cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma, respond to a drug that is currently used in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers. The lowered toxicity of this treatment may mean it is a safer alternative therapy for children and young adults with this aggressive cancer.

There is an intimate relationship between the way a drug works and the genetic changes present in cancers. This study found that sensitivity to most anti-cancer drugs is influenced by mutations in cancer genes and establishes the utility of using large-scale studies to identify these associations and build them into improved patient treatment.

“Our key focus is to find how to use cancer therapeutics in the most effective way by correctly targeting patients that are most likely to respond to a specific therapy,” explains Dr Mathew Garnett, first author from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. “We studied how genetic changes in a panel of >600 cancer cell lines effects responses to 130 anti-cancer drugs, making it the largest study of this type to date.”

The team identified biological markers of drug sensitivity to a broad range of cancer drugs.

Researchers have identified hundreds of associations, many of which we still don’t fully understand. They identified a novel indication for the use of PARP inhibitors, anti-cancer drugs currently used to treat breast and ovarian cancers, for the treatment of Ewing’s sarcoma.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a cancer of children and young adults with a 15% five-year survival rate in patients where the cancer has spread or they have relapsed after chemotherapy.

This research program is a unique Wellcome Trust funded 5-year collaboration between The Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Center for Molecular Therapeutics, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.

This work is helping to move cancer therapeutics away from the conventional tissue-based treatment to a more molecular-based treatment.

Source: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK

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