Gene signature picks out radiation-sensitive cancers

An international team of researchers has validated a set of genetic biomarkers that can select the breast cancer patients whose tumors will respond to radiotherapy, helping doctors create tailored therapies. This radiosensitivity molecular signature (RSI), developed at Moffitt Cancer Center, is based on the gene-expression profile of 10 genes.

The researchers looked at data from patients with breast cancer who had been treated with radiation therapy and showed that the signature could predict the clinical outcomes in this patient group, identifying radiosensitivity and radioresistance. The patients with radiosensitive breast cancer had an improved 5-year, relapse-free survival compared with radioresistant patients. The results were published in Clinical Cancer Research.

In addition to these two breast cancer data sets, the signature has also been validated in rectal, esophageal and head and neck cancer patients.

"We have validated RSI in 5 independent cohorts totaling 621 patients, so this latest validation study, to the best of our knowledge, makes this technology the most extensively validated molecular signature in radiation oncology," said Moffitt researcher Javier F. Torres-Roca, adding that the signature "provides an opportunity to integrate individual tumor biology with clinical decision-making in radiation oncology."

The use of this radiosensitivity molecular signature could improve the outcome for patients, helping doctors select those patients who will respond, and find alternative treatment regimens for those who are likely to be resistant. It has been licensed to Cvergenx, a Moffitt spinoff company focusing on molecular diagnostics, under the name InterveneXRT, which believes that this is the first genomic tool to guide radiotherapy choices.

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- see the abstract