Scientists at Cancer Research U.K. have identified a pattern of genetic defects in tumors that can help indicate high levels of chromosomal instability (CIN) in cancer. They believe that this pattern can also predict the most effective type of chemotherapy to be used with each ovarian cancer patients.
The researchers studied patterns of gene expression indicating high levels of CIN and identified a subset of genes needed by CIN cancer cells to survive. Having confirmed that CIN cells have higher active levels of these genes, the researchers carried out a prospective study in ovarian cancer patients to see whether CIN could help doctors identify which patients are most likely to respond to paclitaxel or carboplatin chemotherapy.
Their results appear in a paper is titled “Chromosomal Instability determines Taxane Response” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings suggested that patients with high levels of the CIN gene pattern were more resistant to paclitaxel but responded well to carboplatin. Tumors with low levels of CIN, on the other hand, were resistant to carboplatin but responded to paclitaxel.
“Our work suggests that resistance to paclitaxel is driven by distinct irregularities in the cancer cell that lead to abnormal cancer cell division,” explains Julian Downward, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “These changes may also render cancers more sensitive to carboplatin treatment.”