Nav: Home

Researchers identify genetic markers to predict response to chemotherapy for colorectal cancer

June 05, 2004

One of the most common challenges facing oncologists today is determining the best course of treatment for their patients--one that would be effective and have the fewest possible side effects. In a study presented today at the 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in New Orleans, Fox Chase Cancer Center researchers have identified genetic markers in the blood that can help predict a patient's response to and side effects from irinotecan, a common chemotherapy drug for colorectal cancer.

Leslie E. Carlini, Ph.D., a research associate in the Fox Chase laboratory of Rebecca L. Blanchard, Ph.D., presented the findings. Their research focuses on genetic variations that influence the effect of medicines on different people--an area of study called pharmacogenetics. Ultimately, the goal is to improve the way drugs are prescribed by identifying individuals who are likely to benefit from a specific medicine or who are at increased risk of serious side effects.

"Our data suggest that variations in genes that help metabolize irinotecan may be useful predictors of how well colorectal cancer patients respond to this drug and how severe side effects will be," Carlini said.

To see how genetic variations affected response and side effects, the laboratory analyzed DNA in blood samples taken during a multi-site clinical trial to test an investigational combination chemotherapy regimen for metastatic colorectal cancer. The patients received intravenous irinotecan once a week and twice-daily tablets of the drug capecitabine for two weeks of a three-week treatment cycle.

The researchers looked at a family of genes called UGTs (UDP-glucuronosyltransferases), involved in breaking down irinotecan within the body and ultimately disposing of it. "Our research indicates that patients specific UGT1A7 or UGT1A9 genotypes will get more anti-tumor response from the chemotherapy combination. What's more, these patients should have fewer side effects," Carlini said.

There were no statistically significant associations between the other two UGT genes and either side effects or antitumor response. "In reality, physicians will soon be able to personalize cancer therapies based on the tumor's characteristics and the genetic profile of the person," said Carlini. "The ultimate goal is to tailor treatment that offers the most anti-tumor activity with the fewest side effects."

In a separate study based on the same clinical trial, Fox Chase researchers also discovered a protein marker to help predict response to combination chemotherapy with capecitabine and irinotecan. Medical oncologist Neal J. Meropol will present these results at the ASCO annual meeting in a Gastrointestinal (Colorectal) Cancer Session on Sunday, June 6 between 8 a.m. and 12 noon (Abstract # 3520, Poster #11).

In addition to Blanchard and Meropol, Carlini's colleagues in the study include Y.-M. Chen, Ph.D., T. Hill, and C. McGarry of Roche Labs, Nutley, N.J.; and P. J. Gold, M.D., of the Swedish Cancer Institute, Seattle, Wash.
-end-
Fox Chase Cancer Center was founded in 1904 in Philadelphia, Pa., as the nation's first cancer hospital. In 1974, Fox Chase became one of the first institutions designated as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center. Fox Chase conducts basic, clinical, population and translational research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at www.fccc.edu or call 1-888-FOX CHASE.

Fox Chase Cancer Center

Related Colorectal Cancer Articles:

Colorectal cancer rates in Canada
The incidence of colorectal cancer among younger adults increased in recent years in this analysis of data from Canadian national cancer registries that included about 688,000 new colorectal cancers diagnosed over more than 40 years.
Cancer drugs promote stem cell properties of colorectal cancer
Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) and the Mannheim University Medical Center have now discovered that a certain group of cancer drugs (MEK Inhibitors) activates the cancer-promoting Wnt signalling pathway in colorectal cancer cells.
Aspirin before at-home colorectal cancer screening test didn't significantly improve ability to detect cancer precursors
Some observational studies have suggested that taking aspirin before undergoing colorectal cancer screening with a fecal immunochemical test for blood in stool might improve the ability of the test to detect cancer precursors.
Gene involved in colorectal cancer also causes breast cancer
Rare mutations in the NTHL1 gene, previously associated with colorectal cancer, also cause breast cancer and other types of cancer.
Bug that causes stomach cancer could play a role in colorectal cancer
A bacterium known for causing stomach cancer might also increase the risk of certain colorectal cancers, particularly among African Americans, according to a study led by Duke Cancer Institute researchers.
'Chromosomal catastrophes' in colorectal cancer
'Chromosomal catastrophes' have been found to occur along the evolutionary timeline of colorectal cancer development, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London.
Colorectal cancer: Tipping the scales
Tumors of the colon are among the most prevalent cancers.
American Cancer Society updates colorectal cancer screening guideline
An updated American Cancer Society guideline says colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risk, based in part on data showing rates are increasing in young and middle-aged populations.
New 'Scoring' System for Advanced Colorectal Cancer
Georgios Margonis, M.D., Ph.D., a surgical oncology fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Matthew Weiss, M.D., surgical director of the Johns Hopkins Liver and Pancreas Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinics, report advances in efforts to improve the treatment and prognosis of colorectal cancers that have spread to the liver.
How colorectal cancer cells spread to the liver
A new study by Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) researchers helps explain the connection between a tumor suppressor called protein kinase C zeta (PKC zeta) and metastatic colorectal cancer.
More Colorectal Cancer News and Colorectal Cancer Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.