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Mayo Researchers Find Biomarkers For Personalizing Radiation Cancer Treatment

October 5, 2010

Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered biomarkers that could lead to personalized radiation treatments for cancer patients. The findings appear today online in the journal Genome Research.

“Overcoming resistance to radiation therapy would make treatment more effective for some individuals,” says Liewei Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic genomic researcher and senior author of the study. “Our findings may make it possible to one day develop novel therapies aimed at selected subgroups of cancer patients.”

Roughly half of all cancer patients undergo radiation therapy, but the response — the impact on the patient and the cancer — can vary greatly. It’s thought that genetic variants — differences in personal genomes — may be the reason in most cases. Dr. Wang and her team investigated 277 different human lymphoblastoid cell lines in an attempt to learn more about why some patients respond differently.

As part of their genome-wide association study, they integrated data on gene expression, cell toxicity outcomes, and 1.3 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the brief sections of genetic code representing variants. They then narrowed the field and validated likely biomarkers in three cell lines to confirm radiation response. In the end, they identified five genes in which gene expression related directly to radiation response.

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