Cancer

10 September 2009

Clue to aggressive cancers found

Researchers say they have gained insight into whether certain aggressive cancers will respond to a certain anti-cancer drug.

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Researchers say they have gained insight into whether certain aggressive cancers including those that attack the pancreas, breast and skin will respond to a certain anti-cancer drug.

The key appears to lie in a molecular signature inside tumours, researchers reported in the Sept. 6 online issue of Nature Medicine.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that a receptor on the surface of some tumour cells can start a process that leads cells to become more aggressive. An anti-cancer drug called dasatinib (Sprycel), approved for treating a form of leukaemia, blocks the process.

Researchers say figuring out whether the receptor exists on tumor cells could indicate whether the tumours might respond to the drug.

"These results could enable us to identify the subpopulation of cancer patients who are likely to respond to treatment with dasatinib," study author David Cheresh, vice chair of pathology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, said in a news release. "Rather than treat all patients with a given tumour type the same way, we can customize the treatment in such a way that we impact the patients most likely to be sensitive to a drug."

In pancreatic cancer, for example, about 60 percent of tumours appear to have the receptor, meaning they would be susceptible to the drug.

The next step is to design a clinical trial to test the theory. – (HealthDay News, September 2009)

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