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Friday, November 8, 2013

Cancer treatment: Experts discover how oxygen levels in tumours affect response

NaijaAgroNet:
Experts at the United Kingdom-based Manchester Cancer Research Centre (MCRC), a partnership project founded by The University of Manchester, have revealed the disclosure that the genetic make-up of a patient’s tumour could be used to personalise their treatment, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This, NaijaAgroNet gathered would help to decide whether cancer patients would benefit from receiving additional drugs as part of their radiotherapy programme, according to a recent study involving scientists from MCRC.
Experts said tumours with lower levels of oxygen, otherwise known as hypoxia often respond less well to radiation therapy.

“There are several agents that can be given to patients before radiotherapy to reduce hypoxia, but these are not given as standard. Being able to measure how well-oxygenated an individual’s tumour is would give doctors a valuable way of identifying which patients might benefit from treatment with hypoxia reducing agents before radiotherapy,” MCRC scientists explained.

They further said, hypoxia has previously been investigated by looking at the expression of certain genes, and Manchester researchers have come up with a genetic profile for tumours that should indicate the overall level of oxygenation.

NaijaAgroNet reports that researchers at MCRC carried out the study in patients diagnosed with cancer of the bladder and larynx, stressing these patients subsequently underwent either standard radiotherapy or radiotherapy with the addition of two agents which in combination are known to increase oxygenation: nicotinamide and carbogen.

The team tested patients’ tumour samples for 26 genes in order to classify them as more or less hypoxic, and then analysed whether this hypoxia score related to the results of treatment.

Leader of the team, Prof. Catharine West of The University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences, said “Our goal is to find ways of predicting how patients will respond to different treatments.

“Future cancer treatments will be personalised so that patients get the best therapy for their tumour,” she said, pointing out that personalising therapy will not only increase the number of people surviving cancer but also decrease side-effects, as patients would be spared from having treatments that are unlikely to work in their tumour.

Prof. West emphasised that they will now test how the hypoxia score works in the clinic in a trial starting in December in patients with head and neck cancer.

“I have studied ways of measuring hypoxia in tumours for many years so this is a very exciting finding that could help us optimise how we use radiotherapy to get the best outcome for patients,” she declared.


Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Pix: Prof. Cath West and Pro. Davies

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