Genes tied to drug-resistant cancers may shape therapy choices

February 1, 2010

A gene abnormality may negatively impact efficacy of commonly used chemotherapy treatment used for breast cancer patients, report researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

A gene abnormality in some women with breast cancer has been implicated in resistance to certain chemotherapy regimens, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report.

Investigators studied DNA of samples of breast tumors from 85 patients prior to chemotherapy. In samples of drug-resistant tumors, 1 area on chromosome 8q22 had a number of extra or amplified copies of DNA stretches. In particular, when 2 genes in this area-LAPTM4B and YWHAZ-overexpressed protein, the tumor cells became resistant to the effects of anthracycline compounds (eg, doxorubicin, daunorubicin, epirubicin). About 1 in 5 samples of genes were linked to drug resistance. However, these cells remained susceptible to other classes of drugs, including cisplatin and paclitaxel.

Based on the study finding, researchers suggest they may be able to create a genetic test that will enable them to customize treatments to each patient’s tumor.

Li Y, Zou L, Li Q, et al. Nat Med. 2010; Jan. 24 (epub).