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article imagePersonalized cancer medicine works best

By Tim Sandle     Mar 18, 2014 in Health
According to a new study, assessing the route to cancer on a case-by-case basis is better than basing a patient's cancer treatment on commonly disrupted genes and pathways. In other words, "personalized meds" work better.
The reason why one research team is arguing for personalized medications is because there appears to be little or no overlap in the main genetic malfunction associated with each individual patient's disease compared to malfunctions shared among the group of cancer patients as a whole.
For the study, scientists collected cancer and normal tissue samples from four patients with pancreatic cancer and also analyzed data from eight other pancreatic cancer patients that had been previously reported in the scientific literature by a separate research group. The study found that collectively 287 genes displayed significant differences in expression in the cancers when compared with normal tissues.
Pancreatic cancer is a cancer originating from transformed cells arising in tissues forming the pancreas. The signs and symptoms that eventually lead to the diagnosis depend on the location, the size, and the tissue type of the tumor, and may include abdominal pain, lower back pain, and jaundice (if the tumor compresses the bile duct), unexplained weight loss, and digestive problems.
As the key finding, the scientists found that the molecular profile of each individual cancer patient was unique in terms of the most significantly disrupted genes and pathways. Therefore the study raises questions about the validity of pinpointing the most important gene or pathway underlying a disease by pooling data from multiple patients.
The study was carried out by the Georgia Tech Foundation and the St. Joseph's Mercy Foundation and the findings have been reported in the journal Pancreas, in a paper titled “Evidence for the Importance of Personalized Molecular Profiling in Pancreatic Cancer.”
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