Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tumor mutations can predict chemo success

10.08.2009
Genetic profiling of tumors could have 'immediate impact' on treating cancer

New work by MIT cancer biologists shows that the interplay between two key genes that are often defective in tumors determines how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy.

The findings should have an immediate impact on cancer treatment, say Michael Hemann and Michael Yaffe, the two MIT biology professors who led the study. The work could help doctors predict what types of chemotherapy will be effective in a particular tumor, which would help tailor treatments to each patient.

"This isn't something that's going to take five years to do," says Yaffe, who, along with Hemann is a member of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. "You could begin doing this tomorrow."

The work could also guide the development of new chemotherapy drugs targeted to tumors with specific genetic mutations.

Hemann, Yaffe, and their colleagues report their results in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Genes and Development. Koch Institute postdoctoral associates Hai Jiang and H. Christian Reinhardt are lead authors of the study, which the researchers say is one of the first examples of how genetic profiling of tumors can translate to improvements in patient treatment.

"There's a huge amount of genetic information available, but it hasn't made its way into clinical practice yet," says Hemann.

Genetic mystery

The research team focused on two proteins often involved in cancer, p53 and ATM. One of the first tumor suppressor genes discovered, p53 serves a watchdog function over a cell's genome, activating repair systems when DNA is damaged and initiating cell death if the damage is irreparable.

ATM is also involved in controlling the cell's response to DNA damage and is known to help regulate p53.

Mutations in p53, ATM or both are often seen in tumor cells. (ATM mutations occur in about 15 percent of cancers, and p53 is mutated in about 30 percent.)

Scientists have long tried to pin down a relationship between mutations in these genes and the effectiveness of DNA-damaging chemotherapy agents, but published studies have produced conflicting reports.

"It's been unclear whether the loss of p53 made tumors easier to treat or harder to treat. You could find examples of either case in the clinical literature," says Yaffe, adding that the same holds true for ATM.

The new study, conducted with human cancer cells, shows that tumors in which both p53 and ATM are defective are highly susceptible to chemotherapy agents that damage DNA. The double mutation prevents tumor cells from being able to repair DNA, and the cells commit suicide.

However, in cells where p53 is mutated but ATM is not, that type of chemotherapy is less effective. Remarkably, tumors where ATM is mutated but p53 is not turn out to be highly resistant to those types of chemotherapy.

With this new information, doctors could choose chemotherapy treatments based on the status of the p53 and ATM genes in a patient's tumor. Traditional DNA-damaging chemotherapy would be a good option for patients with both p53 and ATM mutations, but not for those with normal p53 and mutated ATM.

For patients who have normal ATM and mutated p53, other options might be better: New drugs that inhibit ATM, now in clinical trials, could improve tumors' susceptibility to chemotherapy in those patients.

The study shows the importance of studying cancer genes as a network, rather than trying to predict outcomes based on the status of single genes such as p53, says Robert Abraham, director of the cancer drug discovery program at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Once ATM inhibitors are approved, "understanding the combined status of ATM and p53 should allow physicians to identify patients who should be treated with ATM inhibitors and chemotherapy and those for whom such a therapy could potentially be harmful," Abraham says.

In patients with normal p53 and mutated ATM, doctors could use drugs that target alternative DNA repair pathways. In their Genes and Development paper, the MIT researchers showed that treating such tumors with a drug that targets DNA-PK, another protein involved in DNA repair, renders them vulnerable to chemotherapy.

The MIT researchers collaborated with scientists from the Centre for Genotoxic Stress Research in Denmark, Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland, and Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the David H. Koch Fund, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the Deutsche Nierenstiftung, the Danish Cancer Society, the European Community, the Czech Ministry of Education and the Helsinki University Central Hospital Research Fund.

Jen Hirsch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>