Speedy Gene Test Leads To ‘Smart Treatments’ For Individual Cancer Patients
New individual speedy gene tests can detect gene abnormalities in cancer patients and can help scientists create and doctors use “smarter treatments” to increase cancer patients life expectancy.
The new test screens for 14 distinct key mutations that are directly linked to cancer. The test is conducted on tumor tissue samples and the results are ready in about three weeks. Depending on the results, patients who had surgery will receive the best treatment option available for their specific mutation.
Researchers from the US informed that the new speedy gene test is now available, and there are already some non-small cell lung cancer patients who benefited from its results. One from ten screened patients, was found with a certain mutation that would normally not show up in standard tests and could have led to unnecessary treatments or unwanted side effects.
A study recently published in Annals of Oncology journal, suggests that the new test can lead to more specific cancer treatments.
The new gene test was developed by Dr Lecia Sequist and Dora Santagata co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Translational Research Laboratory.
Dr Lecia Sequist test is so specific because it helps doctors look for mutations in cancer cells , and not in healthy body cells. These mutations in simple terms give mutant cancer cells the possibility to multiply chaotically and treatments that are specific for each gene mutation have been available for some time now. Knowing the exact mutation can lead to an exact treatment target that is more likely to be effective.
Choosing the correct treatment option can raise the response rate in non-small cell lung cancer from 30% to up to 75% and could significantly improve survival rates according to Dr Lecia Sequist.
In a recent study which included near 600 lung cancer patients, cancer tissue samples were screen for 50 gene mutation sites from a total of 14 genes. The avreatge time from sample harvesting to result was about 19 days. Fifty per cent of the tested samples were found positive for one or several mutations. Not so long ago, gene testing was posible only for a few mutation at the same time.
Dr Lecia Sequist and Dora Santagata were the first to succeed in screening multiple gene mutations in NSCLC patients using only one specific test. This particular test is a very important step forward for specific targeted cancer therapy. The results concluded that up to 10% of tested patients presented gene mutations that could not be normally found performing less comprehensive tests. The good news is that cancer laboratories already have the necessary equipment that can be used to perform this specific test.
Dr Dias-Santagata is now busy screening other potential beneficiaries for gene abnormalities such as breast cancer patients, cerebral cancer patients and colon cancer patients. Blood cancers and acute myeloid leukaemia are next on the list.