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Genes Signature May Predict Chemotherapy Survival in Cancer Patients

Update Date: Apr 16, 2013 07:34 AM EDT

Will you survive chemotherapy? A new study suggests that it all depends on your genes.

Scientists have identified an eight gene 'signature' that can predict the length of relapse free survival after chemotherapy, according to a study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

The findings revealed that patients whose gene signature indicated that they were low-risk had a longer relapse free survival than patients whose gene signature put them in the high-risk group.

Using the National Cancer Institute's 60 human cancer cell line panel (NCI-60), researchers from the Academia Sinica and the National Taiwan University College of Medicine first identified genes that were involved in cellular invasion, a property of many cancer cells.

After comparing the pattern of activation of each of the identified cellular invasion genes in different cell lines with how these cell lines responded to 99 different anti-cancer drugs, researchers were able to pinpoint the genes that could potentially influence the outcome of chemotherapy.

"Our study found eight genes which were involved in invasion, and the relative activation of these genes correlated to chemotherapy outcome, including the receptor for growth factor EGF," Professor Ker-Chau Li, from Academia Sinica and UCLA, said in a journal release.

"We also found that some invasion genes had unique patterns of expression that reflect the differential cell responses to each of the chemotherapy agents -- five drugs (paclitaxel, docetaxel, erlotinib, everolimus and dasatinib) had the greatest effect," Li added.

After analyzing the gene expression data of these eight identified genes from cancer cell lines, researchers found that there was a marked difference between cells that responded to chemotherapy and those that did not.

Researchers looked at past clinical studies on lung and breast cancer patients and found that patients whose genes signature put them in the low-risk group had a significantly longer relapse free survival than the high-risk group.

"The discovery of prognostic biomarkers for chemotherapy patients remains critical toward improving the efficacy of cancer treatment," researcher Prof Pan-Chyr Yang of National Taiwan University said in a statement, adding that the eight-gene signature identified in the recent study might help doctors and patients determine choice of treatment as part of individualized cancer therapy.

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