In the largest study of its kind, researchers have profiled genetic changes in cancer with drug sensitivity in order to develop a personalised approach to cancer treatments. The study is published in Nature on Thursday 29 March 2012.
The team uncovered hundreds of associations between mutations in cancer genes and sensitivity to anticancer drugs. One of the key responses the team found was that cells from a childhood bone cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma, respond to a drug that is currently used in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers. The lowered toxicity of this treatment may mean it is a safer alternative therapy for children and young adults with this aggressive cancer. There is an intimate relationship between the way a drug works and the genetic changes present in cancers. This study found that sensitivity to most anti-cancer drugs is influenced by mutations in cancer genes and establishes the utility of using large-scale studies to identify these associations and build them into improved patient treatment.