French gene study offers breast cancer hope

Author thumbnail
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
French gene study offers breast cancer hope
A French study into genes offers hope in treating women with advanced brreast cancer. Photo: Mychelle Daniau/AFP

French doctors revealed this week they hacarried out the bigest gene testing study of its kind which could offer women with advanced breast cancer a better chance of treating their disease.


French doctors said on Friday they had used gene testing to help women with advanced breast cancer get access to clinical trials that may offer a better chance of treating their disease

The study, the biggest of its kind, improves the chances of getting drugs that, like a sniper's rifle, aim at a specific type of tumour, they said

Researchers led by Fabrice Andre, a professor at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Paris, unravelled the DNA of cancer cells found in more than 407 women whose breast cancer had spread dangerously to other tissues.

The goal was to pinpoint genes linked with specific types of tumour, and see if these could be matched to new, experimental drugs that were already in the test pipeline

Previous work has looked at only part of the genetic code of cancer cells - this one, though, was a trawl across the genome, aimed at identifying as many suspect genes as possible.

The probe found that nearly half of the patients - 46 percent - did have tumours whose genetic profile offered a potential target for drugs.

Of these, 43 were then enrolled in clinical trials for new drugs corresponding to this profile.

Thirteen of them responded to treatment.

"Until now, genetic testing has only analysed a limited number of genes to select which targeted drugs are suitable for individual patients and many treatment opportunities may be missed," explained Andre.

"For the first time, we have shown that scanning the whole genome can identify both frequent and rare genomic alterations and can be done in clinical practice with large numbers of women."

The study is reported in a specialist journal, The Lancet Oncology.

Despite the success of the gene trawl, the choice of drugs remains meagre for many of the rarer types of breast cancer.

Thirty-nine percent of the women had a rare type of genetic profile in their cancer, for which in most cases no treatments - either licensed or in trials - existed.



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also