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Marker of DNA Damage Could Predict Response to Platinum Chemotherapy

March 22, 2012
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  • Assay could direct treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Accumulations of telomere AI predicted sensitivity to therapy.

PHILADELPHIA — Scientists have uncovered a marker of DNA damage that could predict who will respond to platinum-based chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin or carboplatin.

These drugs are widely used for ovarian cancer, but as with most cancer drugs, it can be difficult to predict who will respond to therapy.

A team of researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that this marker, telomeric allelic imbalance or tAI, could predict sensitivity to therapy in patients with triple-negative breast cancer.

The results are published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“We currently do not have any targeted therapies for patients with triple-negative breast cancer, so if these laboratory findings are confirmed and an assay is created to predict sensitivity to drugs that target defective DNA repair, it would be a major step forward,” said lead pathologist Andrea Richardson, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Scientists have long known that DNA repair status is a predictor of sensitivity to therapy and thus prognosis. However, measurements of DNA repair status have been slow to arrive.

Richardson and colleagues looked for genomic signatures in cell lines and tumors and correlated them to platinum sensitivity.

In patients with triple-negative breast cancer, they found that a high level of subchromosomal regions with allelic imbalance extended to the telomere predicted response to cisplatin treatment. The same was true for serous ovarian cancer.

Importantly for patients with triple-negative breast cancer, researchers found an inverse relationship between the level of tAI and BRCA1 expression.

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About the AACR

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR’s membership includes 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.  

For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.

Media Contact:

Jeremy Moore
(215) 446-7109
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org

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