Genetic predictive test clears way for targeted drug treatment
An international team of scientists and cancer specialists has identified which patients with the deadly form of brain tumours called glioblastomas are likely to live longer if they are treated with temozolomide, and which patients are likely to get only marginal, if any, benefit. The genetic predictive test on tumour biopsies to identify who will benefit from the drug could be carried out fairly easily in any genetics laboratory and takes only two to three days, although the availability and quality of the tissue is an important issue. If implemented widely it would mean that temozolomide would become a targeted treatment.
Dr. Monika Hegi told the EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Geneva today (Wednesday 29 September) that the key to predicting which patients will gain from temozolomide was a gene called O-6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) – which is involved in DNA repair – and its respective methylation status in the patient’s tumour. Methylation is one of the ways that cells control which genetic information they will use. If the MGMT promoter is methylated, the MGMT gene is silenced and this means that no MGMT repair enzyme will be produced, thus preventing correction of faults in the DNA.
Margaret Willson | EurekAlert!
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