Genetic profile, not clinical appearance, to determine tumor treatment

March 12, 2004

Honolulu, Hawaii...Detailed molecular analysis of tumors is now providing molecular portraits which show the genetic basis of the different clinical presentations of disease. This technology will help identify metastasis signatures and provide logical targets for drug discovery. This moves us closer to a time when we will treat patients based on the genetic profile of the tumor rather than the clinical presentation of the disease. Finding targets that are differentially expressed in cancer and normal tissue will also provide better tests for early diagnosis.

There is also increasing interest in utilizing knowledge about tumor biology to address the vexing question as to why tumors recur despite seemingly adequate treatment. A new generation of ultrasensitive diagnostics has highlighted the problem of subcutaneous foci of residual tumors that may remain at the operative site, or be disseminated throughout the body. These approaches have also revealed that the extent of spread of a precancerous patch is often much greater than previously realized. Long-term follow-up of cases screened by these molecular diagnostics suggests that detecting these troublesome foci of disease can help to identify individuals at risk of developing local and distant recurrence.

In a Keynote Address during the 82nd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, Dr. Maxine Partridge (King's College Hospital, London, UK) reports that a host of novel therapeutic strategies is now on the horizon for management of these problems. These include gene-mediated strategies to replace defective sequences, blocking signal transduction, and anti-angiogenic agents. Early clinical trials show promise. However, targeting residual tumor and precancerous lesions is not straightforward, and strategies to improve delivery of these novel therapeutics to the sites of active disease will be presented.
This is a summary of a Keynote Address entitled "Molecular Diagnostics for Oral Cancer", to be presented by M. Partridge (King's College Hospital, London, UK), at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 12, in Room 316-C of the Hawaii Convention Center, during the 82nd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.

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