Invitrogen has won FDA approval of a test that can determine whether a woman with breast cancer will benefit from Genentech's Herceptin. The SPOT-Light test, as it is known, uses a DNA probe for the HER2 gene, which is amplified in 18 to 30 percent of breast cancers and can predict whether a patient will benefit from Herceptin. While a test is already available for Herceptin, many smaller hospitals don't have the resources to process the tests. Invitrogen's SPOT-Light doesn't require specialized equipment and can be processed in most hospital labs.
"Given the emerging potential use of trastuzumab (Herceptin) in the adjuvant setting, the need to accurately determine the front-line HER2 status in breast cancer has never been more critical," said Jeffrey Ross, M.D., of Albany Medical College. Invitrogen's test is yet another step in the direciton of personalized medicine. Such tests allow physicians to choose the right treatment for patients and save money by not giving the expensive drug to patients who won't benefit from it.