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Customising Cancer Treatment - The Challenge Of Genetics

22.12.2004


At the Norwegian Radium Hospital in Oslo, scientists are approaching methods that will improve the patients’ chances of survival and reduce unnecessary treatment.

The cancer treatment of today involves a lot of trial and error. Cancer cells that have started to grow uncontrollably, must be stopped. We use different kinds of medicinal drugs to stop cell growth and induce apoptosis, i.e. make the cells commit suicide. However, nobody knows whether or not the chosen form of medication has an effect on the patient until it has been tried out over a period of time. There is always a risk of losing time, especially if the tumour is big and has to be treated with medication before it is possible to perform surgery.

The problem with cancer treatment today is that it does not consider the genetic variety of human beings and the fact that each individual tumour is genetically unique.



"By giving the same medication to all patients that have the same diagnosis, there is a risk that some may die in the course of the disease because the drug is not working, while others may be poisoned by excessive doses. Although most patients will recover, it is not easy to predict who will recover and who will not," says Vessela Nedelcheva Kristensen.

By conducting meticulous research and with the help of the latest, state-of-the-art instrument called Nanochip Workstation, Nedelcheva Kristensen and her research team are trying to identify the genes that have an influence on how anti-cancer drugs work on each patient. With grants from the Research Council of Norway’s National Programme for Research in Functional Genomics, FUGE, this young scientist takes part in research that may revolutionise cancer treatment. The researchers take samples from each tumour and analyse them, and they take blood samples from the patients to analyse their genetic sensitivity to an anti-cancer drug. This sensitivity varies according to each individual.

"By genetically testing each tumour, we may be able to say which form of treatment suits each patient. This is groundwork for individually tailored cancer treatment," she says.

By conducting meticulous research and with the help of the latest, state-of-the-art instrument called Nanochip Workstation, Nedelcheva Kristensen and her research team are trying to identify the genes that have an influence on how anti-cancer drugs work on each patient. With grants from the Research Council of Norway’s National Programme for Research in Functional Genomics, FUGE, this young scientist takes part in research that may revolutionise cancer treatment. The researchers take samples from each tumour and analyse them, and they take blood samples from the patients to analyse their genetic sensitivity to an anti-cancer drug. This sensitivity varies according to each individual.

"By genetically testing each tumour, we may be able to say which form of treatment suits each patient. This is groundwork for individually tailored cancer treatment," she says.

Thomas Evensen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.forskningsradet.no/forport/application?lang=en_UK

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