For the first time, researchers appear to be able to use a comprehensive panel of genetic variants to predict how a patient with esophageal cancer will respond to a spectrum of cancer treatments.
At the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report that six different gene variants can predict an improved outcome in patients treated with two different chemotherapy drugs and/or with radiation therapy.
For example, the researchers say that a combination of several gene variants in patients treated with one type of chemotherapy (5-FU) more than doubled survival to 51 months, compared to 25 months in patients treated with the same drug who did not have these variants.
The researchers also discovered an additive effect between these genes and others that conferred smaller advantages. The higher the number of beneficial variants the patient had, the longer survival was, they found.
As promising as the study is, significant hurdles remain before these findings can be incorporated into treatment, Wu says. Because more data are needed to support their findings, the investigators are accumulating a cohort of 800 esophageal patients from which they can draw a comprehensive genetic profile using blood samples.
If successful, such pathway-based analyses can be conducted for the wide variety of cancers that are treated with 5FU, cisplatin and radiation, as well as other drug treatments, Wu says.
Nancy Jensen | EurekAlert!
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