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Challenge to find treatable cancer mutations

Thursday April 12th, 2018

Oncologists face a huge task to identify which of thousands of recently identified genetic mutations in cancer are worth targeting with drug treatments, European experts have warned.

The European Society of Medical Oncology called for large-scale clinical trials to identify which mutations are treatable.

Professor Fabrice André, from the society, called for the genetic variants to be ranked according to the extent to which they might be treatable.

Last week the US-based Cancer Genome Atlas project unveiled its findings on the genomes of more than 10,000 tumours from 33 types of cancer. The findings were published in 29 papers in the Cell group of journals.

The findings also suggested that cancer could be reclassified in some cases according to the genomic alterations that underlie it – rather than the tissue types it affects.

Professor André, from the Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France, said: "The studies highlight genomic alterations in cancer tissue, but while it is tempting to believe that they are all important, sometimes giving a drug matched to the mutation does not benefit patients.

"As reported previously, in rare cancers that share genomic alterations it may be time to seek pan-cancer registration for drugs.

"But for some other cancers it is too early to adopt this approach. We know that treating a certain mutation benefits patients with some types of cancer but has no impact on other types of cancer."

Tags: Cancer | Europe | Genetics

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