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MicroRNA Profiling Identifies Chemoresistance in Small Cell Lung Cancer

January 12, 2010

• Chemoresistance to first-line therapy affects about 6,500 patients a year.
• Only two first-line chemotherapies are currently standard treatment.

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CORONADO, Calif. — At least three tumor microRNAs appear to predict when first-line chemotherapy will prove ineffective in some patients with small cell lung cancer, according to data presented at the AACR-IASLC Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer, held Jan. 11-14, 2010.

“For patients with small cell lung cancer, there are really only about two chemotherapy options. We need to be more precise with our treatments and identify earlier who is going to be resistant in order to design better clinical trials that will identify effective therapies for these at-risk patients,” said Glen J. Weiss, M.D., director of thoracic oncology at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare and co-head of the Lung Cancer Unit at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Weiss said of the approximately 32,000 new cases of small cell lung cancer diagnosed every year, between 15 and 30 percent will be chemoresistant to first-line therapy.

For the current study, Weiss and colleagues evaluated 34 patients with small cell lung cancer of varying stages. Patients were seen at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. Median age of the patient group was 69.1 years; half of them were men. All 34 patients received systemic chemotherapy, and there were two complete responses and 13 partial responses. Two patients had stable disease and four had progressive disease.

Three microRNAs were identified as being closely linked with chemoresistance: miR-92a-2*, miR-147 and miR-574-5p. Although 47 percent of the patients presented with hypertension and 32 percent presented with emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, neither of these co-morbidities were linked with chemoresistance.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 30,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and nearly 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowship and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 16,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(267) 646-0557
jeremy.moore@aacr.org
In Coronado, Jan. 11-14:
(619) 628-5401

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