New genetic study raise hope for cancer patients

Updated: Oct 25, 2012, 15:59 PM IST

Melbourne: Australia scientist are claiming to have identified a set of mutated genes responsible for pancreatic cancer, a finding that could revolutionise its treatment.

The latest discovery by researchers at Kinghorn Cancer Centre at Sydney`s Garvin Institute could lead to early detection and better treatment of the pancreatic cancer, the ABC news reported.

Andrew Biankin, the scientist at the centre and co-author of a study, said treating pancreatic cancer was a race against time.

"Normally what happens when you start chemotherapy for a particular cancer.. Is you have a standard [treatment].. That might work in about 20 per cent (of cases)," Biankin said, adding "If that doesn`t work, three months later you`d try something else.

"But unfortunately with pancreatic cancer, you pretty much only get one bite of the cherry. If you get it wrong the first time then basically most patients don`t live long enough to get the next chance of chemotherapy," he said.

Biankin, along with Sean Grimmond of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, led an Australian team of researchers that sequenced the genomes of 100 pancreatic tumours and compared them to normal tissue to determine the genetic changes that lead to this cancer, the report said.

"We found over 2,000 mutated genes in total... Which was mutated in about 90 per cent of samples, and hundreds of gene mutations that were only present in 1 or 2 per cent of tumours," Grimmond said.

"This demonstrates that so-called `pancreatic cancer` is not one disease, but many, and suggests that people who seemingly have the same cancer might need to be treated quite differently," he added.

Biankin said, "The idea is that you don`t want to give drugs to patients that aren`t going to respond because it`s probably toxic and it`s expensive," he said.
"[Instead] you try and match the right drug to the right patient."

Genetic sequencing of the DNA of tumours and patients will go into global database known as the International Cancer Genome Consortium, he said.

This will assist researchers in comparing the success and failure of drug treatments and other therapies.