This site is intended for health professionals only

Bowel cancer therapy breakthrough

The era of personalised cancer treatment has moved a step closer after a new genetic study by UK scientists.

Faults identified in DNA could help doctors provide specific therapies for thousands of patients with bowel cancer, as genetically similar patients benefit from specially tailored treatments. Progress such as this could facilitate individually tailored therapies for many more people in the future.

The genetic analysis of 106 bowel cancer tumour samples searching for faults in a gene called K-Ras was carried out by Cancer Research UK scientists from the University of Dundee.

Patients without the defect of the K-Ras gene can benefit from two new "antibody" cancer drugs, so knowing which patients have a faulty gene is vital. Those without the defective K-Ras gene may even be harmed by the drugs, cetumixab and panitumumab.

Professor Roland Wolf, Director of the Cancer Research UK Molecular Pharmacology Unit at the University of Dundee, said: "These findings may in the future be relevant for selected patients with advanced bowel cancer as doctors will be able to more precisely target these treatments to the patients who will benefit, and avoid treating those who won't."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Cancer Research