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Research: Chemoresponse assay helps boost ovarian cancer survival

Researcher part of team showing connection between chemoresponse assays and improved ovarian cancer survival rates
This spring, a team of researchers has released results from an eight-year study that shows improved survival rates for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer who undergo cancer tumor testing to determine the best treatment.

Part of the team was Richard G. Moore, MD, director of the Center for Biomarkers and Emerging Technologies and a gynecologic oncologist with the Program in Women's Oncology at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island.

"Essentially, we have demonstrated that by using a tissue sample from the patient's tumor and a chemoresponse assay, we are able to determine which treatment may or may not work for her," Dr. Moore explains of the study, which was presented at a recent meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and in the trade publication Cure.

"This study shows that a woman with recurrent ovarian cancer could benefit from having a biopsy and chemosensitivity testing. The results from such testing will allow for the identification of chemotherapeutics that are active against the patient's disease and those that are not resulting in decreased toxicity from ineffective treatments. Learning that personal directed therapies may improve overall survival for these patients made this the first study in two decades to show a significant increase in survival in recurrent ovarian cancer."

The study, launched in 2004, included 283 women. Of those, 262 had successful biopsies which were tested in vitro, or in a test tube. The assay ChemoFx®, by Precision Therapeutics, tested up to 15 approved treatment regimens on the samples, identifying chemotherapy drugs and regimens to which each tumor might be sensitive. The study was non-interventional, meaning that physicians chose the treatment regimens without knowing of the assay results. The researchers then evaluated the assay's result against actual patient outcomes.

"The assay identified at least one treatment to which the tumor would be sensitive in 52% of patients in the study," Dr. Moore says. "Overall, median survival was 37.5 months for patients with treatment-sensitive tumors, compared to 23.9 months for intermediate and resistant tumors."

Assay-directed therapy has long been debated among oncologists, he continues. Such debate provided the impetus for this study.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation's leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. The primary teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women's medicine, Women & Infants is the ninth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country with nearly 8,400 deliveries per year.In 2009, Women & Infants opened the country's largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.
New England's premier hospital for women and newborns, Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation's only mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation's only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Center of Excellence from the American College of Radiology; a Center for In Vitro Maturation Excellence by SAGE In Vitro Fertilization; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health; and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Oncology Group and the National Institutes of Health's Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.

About ChemoFx®
ChemoFx®, is a proprietary, CLIA-certified and commercially-available chemoresponse assay which measures an individual's tumor response to a range of therapeutic alternatives under consideration by the treating physician. By testing multiple chemotherapies on a patient's tumor cells before clinically treating a cancer patient, ChemoFx® helps determine the chemotherapies more likely to be effective and, therefore, provides valuable insights that help inform physicians' treatment decisions with a goal of improving patient outcomes.

Precision Therapeutics currently receives ChemoFx® specimens from 271 top medical institutions including 20 of the 21 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Member Institutions, and 8 of the US News and World Report Top 10 Hospitals for Cancer Care. Over 60,000 patient specimens to date have been tested with ChemoFx®.

About Precision Therapeutics

Precision Therapeutics, a leading life-science company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is dedicated to utilizing precision medicine for personalized cancer care. Precision offers a portfolio of products developed to help guide physicians and patients with difficult clinical decisions throughout the cancer care continuum. The company's leading products for personalized cancer care include ChemoFx® and BioSpeciFx®, a select portfolio of clinically relevant molecular tests that provide information about drug response and patient prognosis. Additionally, in 2013 Precision is releasing two new gene signature products, under the GeneFx® brand. GeneFx Colon is a 634-transcript microarray assay that has been independently validated to predict risk of disease recurrence in stage II colon cancer patients. It is currently undergoing an additional independent validation using a large cooperative group cohort. GeneFxLung is a 15-gene microarray assay that has been independently validated in 5 separate patient groups to predict risk of mortality in early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and may also be able to predict which of those patients will experience benefit from chemotherapy.

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Susan McDonald | EurekAlert!
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