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Posted on Monday, Aug 12, 2013

Moffitt Cancer Center Identifies Genetic Marker that Points to Personalized Care for Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

Experimental Mesothelioma TreatmentsOncologists often have to rely on feedback from their mesothelioma patients to decide whether a treatment is effective or not. Finding a reliable, scientific method to determine survival or prognosis has been elusive, leaving patients and their doctors frustrated. Now, researchers report they have identified “four inherited genetic variants in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients that can help predict survival and treatment response.”

According to a press release, researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center report that four genetic variants associated with survival were located on the TNFRSF10B gene. Officially known as the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, member 10b, TNFRSF10B, in simple terms, helps control cell death.

The Moffitt researchers report that “these variants increased the risk of death as much as 41 percent.” Further, patients with the four variants were at greater risk of death if they had surgery without follow-up chemotherapy as compared to patients who were treated with adjuvant chemotherapy.

“Having a validated genetic biomarker based on inherited differences in our genes may allow physicians to determine the best treatments for an individual patient based on their unique genetics,” said study lead author Matthew B. Schabath, Ph.D., assistant member of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Moffitt.

Targeted therapies allow oncologists to offer mesothelioma patients the right treatment at the right time based on the patients’ unique genetic characteristics. The Moffitt researchers believe their findings can lead to “more personalized treatment options and improved outcomes for patients.” Personalized care targeted to the disease’s genetic makeup optimizes the potential for success of the treatment and offers treatment options that may not otherwise have been considered.

Pleural mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-caused cancer affecting the lining of the lungs, is one of many cancers for which doctors have limited resources for treating effectively. While pleural mesothelioma is not classified as a lung cancer according to the medical definition, the treatments and responses to the treatments for lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma are often similar. Findings for NSCLC leave the mesothelioma community hopeful that they will be effective for mesothelioma as well.

The researchers concluded the “biomarkers may have potential important clinical implications by optimizing patient-specific treatment.”

The report can be found in the July issue of Carcinogenesis.

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Nancy Meredith is a blog and web content writer with more than 20 years of professional experience in the Information Technology industry. She has been writing about Mesothelioma for 4 years. Follow Nancy on Google+