Cancer drugs should be tailored to fit patient

In a study that may change the way that cancer drugs are developed and prescribed, a research group composed of Roche scientists and doctors at the prestigious Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have determined that genetic mutations are different in every patient, suggesting that drugs will need to be "tailored" for small groups. Using less expensive technology to study the genes in tumors, the researchers determined that four patients suffering from the lethal--and rare--lung-sac each had unique groups of mutated genes. That means that more drugs like Herceptin and Gleevec, which target specific genetic mutations, are most likely to prove effective. However, The New York Times also raises the question whether some cancers will be so unique to individuals that developing cancer drugs for them would be too expensive. The study was published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Now that we understand that everything is doggone different, I think we have to look at each patient completely," Dr. David Sugarbaker says. "What we need to do is pair up the right patient with the right drug." Analyzing the patients' DNA, though, cost $100,000 per person in the study. Less expensive technology could reduce that bill to a still hefty $12,000.

- read the article in the Wall Street Journal

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