Genetic Clues re: Stomach Cancer


Recent research carried out in Singapore has identified genetic differences that distinguish two distinct types of stomach cancer. It’s hoped that these clues will help scientists to discover more effective ways to treat the disease.
Currently experts use a microscopic test to assess how tumour cells are arranged, with the options being either “intestinal” or “diffuse”. But unfortunately this classification system, known as the Lauren classification, is not precise enough to enable doctors to accurately predict how patients will respond to different treatments.
However, this latest research from Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School looked at the genomes of stomach cancer cells grown in the lab to see if there were significant differences between samples.
Where cells could not be classified with the traditional Lauren system, further genetic analysis enabled the researchers to separate the cancers into two distinct groups.
The researchers also found that the two tumour types responded differently to chemotherapy treatment. The chemotherapy drugs 5-fluorouracil and oxaliplatin were more effective in treating intestinal tumours, while diffuse tumours responded better to the drug cisplatin
The published findings could in the future help doctors to select the most effective treatment for each patient.
Senior author of the study, Professor Patrick Tan, said: “Our study is the first to show that a proposed molecular classification of gastric cancer can identify genomic subtypes that respond differently to therapies, which is crucial in efforts to customize treatments for patients.”
Nell Barrie, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said “Doctors are moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to treating each type of cancer, and this study suggests that it could be possible to tailor treatment for people with stomach cancer. It’s only by understanding the biology of the disease that we can make sure each patient will get the treatment that works best for them in the future.”

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