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DNA may help skin cancer treatment

The success or failure of chemotherapy for cancer patients could be predicted with the help of DNA repair systems, experts have indicated.

The study, which is expected to lead to personalised treatment for skin cancer patients, is documented in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Researchers from the Cancer Research UK Centre at the University of Leeds discovered DNA repair genes in cancer tumours help in determining the result of chemotherapy.

According to the experts, higher levels of activity from the genes could result in a poorer response to treatment.

This may help doctors find out which patient is most affected by the genes, and thereby offer appropriate treatment - which could help in raising the patient's chances of survival.

Already, DNA repair systems are know to be helpful for healthy cells, and the latest report shows their relevance in treatments against cancer.

Although a number of anti-cancer drugs target the DNA of tumour cells, it is found the DNA repair genes can nullify their effect, causing the growth of cancer cells.

In the study, the researchers examined some 472 patients with malignant melanoma - the most serious form of skin cancer.

After analysis of 502 cancer-related genes, they found that higher levels of protein produced by certain DNA repair genes in melanoma tumours are associated with resistance to chemotherapy treatment.

Study leader Professor Julia Newton-Bishop said: "Our study found that the increased expression of DNA repair genes in melanomas predict poorer outcome overall and provide preliminary evidence that those patients whose tumours have lower levels of the genes may respond better to standard chemotherapy for melanoma."

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Clinical Cancer Research