New technique for faster check on cancer therapy

February 25th, 2008 - 11:47 am ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 25 (IANS) A new technique that could quickly determine the effectiveness of ongoing cancer treatment is under study, potentially offering patients the option of switching treatment. At present, it takes two to three months to gauge the efficacy of an ongoing line of treatment and the process involves measuring changes in tumour size with the help of CT and MRI scans.

“If we can get that answer within one to two days, we can switch that patient to an alternative regimen very quickly,” said Dennis Hallahan, oncologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who led the study.

Rapid assessment of tumour response is important as advances in molecular targeted therapies - chemotherapy that target cancer cells while avoiding damage to healthy cells - offer choices to patients.

“We now have so many molecular targeted drugs to choose from, and that number is growing every year, so we are now at a point where a patient can be switched from one regimen to another,” Hallahan said.

“But we need the tools to make the decision to use an alternative therapy with the patient.”

The Vanderbilt researchers have reported the identification of a small protein that recognises the extent to which tumours respond to chemotherapy.

In the study, when tagged with a light-emitting molecule, the protein helped visualise response time in mice within two days.

“This imaging peptide will enter clinical trials within 18 months,” Hallahan said.

Findings of the study have appeared online ahead of its publishing in the print version of the journal in Nature Medicine.

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