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Researchers Call Melanoma Rise an Epidemic

Invasive melanoma rates are 17 times higher in men and 9 times higher in women than they were 60 years ago, according to a new analysis of Connecticut Tumor Registry data from 1950 to 2007. The registry included nearly 20,000 people with melanomas that had spread, as well as more than 3,600 who died from melanoma. Incidence rates rose from about 2 to 33 per 100,000 for men, and from more than 2 to 25 per 100,000 for women. In addition, mortality rates more than tripled in men (from 1.6 to about 5.0 per 100,000) and doubled in women (from 1.3 to 2.6 per 100,000). Calling U.S. melanoma rates an epidemic, the researchers urge targeting high-risk populations with a national prevention and early-detection program. In Germany, a screening program reduced melanoma deaths by 40%.

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Journal of Clinical Oncology│Nov 18, 2013

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Gut Bacteria May Be Necessary for Best Response to Cancer Treatment

Gut Bacteria May Be Necessary for Best Response to Cancer Treatment | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

The human gut has many bacteria and other microscopic creatures that live inside us, but do not harm us, and may indeed contribute to our health. Now two studies suggest that these bacteria are required for a full response to cancer treatment. Mice that were raised in a sterile environment (and thus lacked any gut bacteria), or whose gut bacteria had been destroyed with antibiotics, were implanted with cancer cells. When these mice were treated with immunotherapy or chemotherapy drugs, their tumors shrank less than those of mice with intact gut bacterial populations. These findings raise concerns for cancer patients, who are frequently treated with antibiotics to control infections due to weakened immune systems.

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Medical Xpress  |  Nov 21, 2013

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Medical Xpress  |  Nov 21, 2013

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Noninvasive Melanoma Diagnosis May Cut Biopsies

Noninvasive Melanoma Diagnosis May Cut Biopsies | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new way to detect melanomas sidesteps the discomfort and disfiguration of biopsies by letting dermatologists look directly into intact skin. Called confocal microscopy, the method shows cells deep enough to distinguish most skin cancers—including melanomas, basal cell carcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas—from benign lesions that do not need treatment. According to a dermatologist who is trained in this method, confocal microscopy could ultimately spare half of patients from biopsies.

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Medical Xpress│Nov 20, 2013

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Anti-Melanoma Vaccine May Extend Life

Anti-Melanoma Vaccine May Extend Life | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Results of a late-stage clinical trial suggest that an experimental immunotherapy may boost survival in people with melanoma. Called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), the vaccine includes a gene called granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) that stimulates the immune system. The researchers found that people injected with T-VEC lived an average of 4 months longer than those treated with GM-CSF on its own (23 vs 19 mo). In addition, T-VEC made more tumors disappear or shrink by at least half.

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Amgen│Nov 18, 2013

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Sniffing Out Cancer

Sniffing Out Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Researchers are working on an 'electronic nose' that could detect cancer by smell. The abnormal chemical processes inside cancer cells can lead to different substances being released from these cells than from healthy tissues, including different odor molecules. An electronic nose is a machine that uses numerous chemical sensors to detect odor molecules with higher sensitivity and accuracy than a human nose, or even a dog’s nose. Now scientists are examining blood samples from cancer patients and healthy individuals to determine the patterns that distinguish the two and to program an electronic nose to recognize the difference. The hope is that a future 'smell test' may be able to reliably identify cancer in its early stages, without the need for invasive procedures.

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New York Times  |  Nov 20, 2013

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New York Times  |  Nov 20, 2013

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New York Times  |  Nov 20, 2013

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New Test May Reveal When Melanomas Resist Targeted Therapies

New Test May Reveal When Melanomas Resist Targeted Therapies | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Melanomas with BRAF mutations often become drug-resistant, but now researchers think they know how to tell who will benefit from continued treatments. The researchers studied BRAF-mutant melanomas in nine people before and after targeted treatment, and found that tumors were less likely to grow when a protein called S6 was not activated. Next, the researchers developed a way to monitor S6 — and so tumor response —in treated melanomas in real-time. Their method entails fine-needle aspiration, which is far less invasive than conventional biopsies and could potentially replace the serial biopsies currently done to test for tumor resistance.

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HemOnc Today │ Nov 11, 2013

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Immune System Cells from Tumors Might Control Cancer

Immune System Cells from Tumors Might Control Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Tumors contain immune system cells that attack cancer cells but are present in very small numbers, leading to the hope that a flood of these antitumor cells might eradicate cancer. This approach can work in melanomas, but has not yet worked against other kinds of cancers. Now, there's a better way to concentrate antitumor immune system cells: they have a protein called CD137 on their surfaces; researchers recently used this distinction to extract these antitumor cells quickly and easily from both melanomas and ovarian cancer. The new study showed that peoples' own antitumor cells recognized their tumors and that injections of these cancer fighting cells kept tumors from growing in mice. If other types of cancer also contain these antitumor immune system cells, this new approach could hold promise for treating a wide range of tumors.



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Clinical Cancer Research│Sep 17, 2013

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No Convincing Evidence That Supplements Help Prevent Cancer

No Convincing Evidence That Supplements Help Prevent Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A review by a panel of independent U.S. experts concludes there is not enough evidence to recommend either for or against the use of most vitamin or mineral supplements to reduce the risk of cancer. However, the panel’s guidelines advise against the use of beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) and vitamin E for cancer prevention, because there is relatively clear evidence that neither is effective. Indeed, beta-carotene supplements appear to increase lung cancer risk in people already at high risk of the disease. Instead, the panel recommends that healthy adults without nutritional deficiencies get their nutrients by eating a varied diet to minimize the risk of chronic disease, including cancer.

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MedPage Today | Nov 11, 2013

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MedPage Today | Nov 11, 2013

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MedPage Today | Nov 11, 2013

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Prostate Cancer Linked to Risk of Melanoma

Prostate Cancer Linked to Risk of Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Cancer survivors account for nearly one-fifth of new cancer diagnoses, and a new study suggests that melanoma may be more common in men who have had prostate cancer. The researchers followed cancer in about 42,000 white men from 1982 to 1998. About 5,100 of the men developed prostate cancer and 539 developed melanomas—and those in the former group were more likely to be in the latter group, too. Doctors caution this does not necessarily mean that prostate cancer increases the risk of melanoma. However, the researchers point out that the odds of developing melanoma were not higher in men who had survived cancers other than of the prostate.

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Journal of Clinical Oncology│Nov 4, 2013

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Journal of Clinical Oncology│Nov 4, 2013

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Abnormal Chromosome Numbers May Play an Important Role in Cancer Development

Abnormal Chromosome Numbers May Play an Important Role in Cancer Development | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Cancer genetics has traditionally focused on mutations in individual genes. A new study, however, focuses on chromosomes, the structures on which genes are located. Cancer cells often have too many or too few copies of a chromosome. This phenomenon, called 'aneuploidy,' is often considered to be just a byproduct of the cancer cell’s chaotic state. In the study, researchers identified genes likely to promote or suppress tumor growth; they then noted on which chromosomes these genes were located. Chromosomes containing more tumor-promoting than tumor-suppressing genes were more likely to be multiplied inside cancer cells, while chromosomes with more tumor-suppressing genes were likely to be deleted. This finding suggests that chromosome deletions or multiplications may indeed be a cause of cancer instead of an effect.

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ScienceDaily | Oct 31, 2013

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ScienceDaily | Oct 31, 2013

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ScienceDaily | Oct 31, 2013

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Test Separates Look-alike Melanoma Subtypes

Test Separates Look-alike Melanoma Subtypes | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new study shows how to distinguish two kinds of non-pigmented melanomas—desmoplastic and spindle cell—that are hard to tell apart. Both cancers often look like tiny scars or dimples in the skin, but spindle cell melanoma tends to spread and be fatal. The researchers tested 38 desmoplastic and spindle cell melanomas for 50 cancer biomarkers and found 4 specific to the former and 5 specific to the latter. Testing for two biomarkers (Melan A and trichrome) was enough to diagnose more than 90% of the samples accurately.

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Modern Pathology│Nov 4, 2013

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FDA to Regulate Personalized Medicine

Now that medical treatment is increasingly tailored to patient subtypes (eg, lung cancer patients with mutations in the ALK gene can be treated with Xalkori), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a new report explaining how it will regulate personalized therapies and tests. The first targeted therapy used in the U.S. was trastuzumab, which is for HER2 breast cancer and was approved in 1998. Since then, the FDA has approved more than 100 treatments that target specific genetic abnormalities, including four drugs for cancer subtypes that are identified by companion test kits.

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Medscape│Oct 29, 2013

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Medscape│Oct 29, 2013

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Medscape│Oct 29, 2013

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Test for Hard-to-ID Cancers that Have Spread

Test for Hard-to-ID Cancers that Have Spread | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

While identifying cancer types is key to proper treatment, this can be difficult once tumors have spread. Each year, more than 400,000 people in the US have cancers that spread, and the diagnosis is uncertain in about 30% of them. Now, more people will have access to a test that classifies tumors based on the expression of 92 genes. Called CancerTYPE ID, the test will be used by Mayo Medical Laboratories, which serves the Mayo Clinic as well as more than 5,000 other hospitals worldwide. The test can distinguish more than 50 types of cancer, including tumors that are easily confused such as breast, cervical, endometrial and ovarian.

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bioTheranostics│Oct 29, 2013

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bioTheranostics│Oct 29, 2013

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bioTheranostics│Oct 29, 2013

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Timing Cancer Treatment for Maximum Effectiveness

Timing Cancer Treatment for Maximum Effectiveness | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Our bodies follow a 24-hour 'biorhythm' that affects most of our biological functions. This fact forms the basis of cancer chronotherapy, which takes time of day into account to plan cancer treatment. Administering cancer drugs at the right time can double effectiveness while reducing toxicity up to fivefold. However, individual differences in biorhythms mean that the 'right time' varies from one person to another. In a recent study, researchers linked gene expression in mice with the time point at which the chemotherapy agent irinotecan (Camptosar) produced the least toxicity. They developed a mathematical model that predicts each animal's ideal time point based on the expression of two genes. In the future, they hope to develop similar tools to help predict the best time for cancer treatment in human patients.

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Medical Xpress  |  Nov 22, 2013

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Medical Xpress  |  Nov 22, 2013

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Cancer Screening Less Beneficial in Older Patients

Cancer Screening Less Beneficial in Older Patients | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Although cancer rates increase with age, screening for cancer may not be useful past a certain age. Older patients already have a shorter life expectancy and may die of other causes before the cancer becomes a problem. Indeed, the psychological burden of a cancer diagnosis and the side effects of cancer treatment may unnecessarily lower a person’s quality of life. While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that colorectal cancer screening and mammograms for breast cancer screening be stopped after age 75 years, a recent study by the National Cancer Institute suggests that a patient’s overall health should be taken into account. An older patient with multiple chronic illnesses will have a lower life expectancy, while a healthy patient the same age may still benefit from cancer screening.

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Time Magazine  |  Nov 20, 2013

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Time Magazine  |  Nov 20, 2013

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Time Magazine  |  Nov 20, 2013

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Immune System Cells Could be Trained to Attack Tumors

Immune System Cells Could be Trained to Attack Tumors | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A type of white blood cell can infiltrate and attack tumors, and researchers have just launched a clinical trial of an experimental immunotherapy designed to sharpen this attack against melanoma. These white blood cells are called killer T cells, and the first step is collecting them from people with melanomas that have spread. Then two genes are inserted into the killer T cells to make them seek tumor cells. Next, the people are treated with chemotherapy to wipe out their remaining T cells, which do not recognize tumor cells as abnormal. The final step is treating people with their own genetically-modified killer T cells in hopes that these will then attack tumors. This phase I trial is currently recruiting participants.

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ScienceDaily│Nov 19, 2013

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PD-1 Blocker Extends Life in People with Melanoma in Early Trial

PD-1 Blocker Extends Life in People with Melanoma in Early Trial | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

An experimental immunotherapy may keep people with melanoma alive for up to 1 year, according to findings presented at the 2013 International Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drug (MK-3475) blocks a protein, called PD-1, that lets cancer cells evade the immune system. Researchers treated 135 people with MK-3475 and found that tumors shrank in 40% and disappeared in 9%. Altogether, this drug is being tested in more than 3,000 people with melanoma or breast, bladder, colorectal, or lung cancer. In addition, another experimental PD-1 blocker called nivolumab is being tested alone and in combination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved Yervoy (ipilimumab) against melanoma and blood, breast, gastric, kidney, liver, lung, and pancreatic cancers.

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Bloomberg | Nov 18, 2013

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Moles Linked to Risk of Inherited Melanoma

Moles Linked to Risk of Inherited Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Melanoma can run in families, and a new study suggests that the likelihood of developing familial melanoma could be predicted based on moles during childhood. The researchers followed 133 children in families with inherited melanoma and found that children who had more moles overall, as well as more atypical moles on the lower body, were at higher risk of melanoma. In addition, the researchers confirmed that those who developed melanomas were more likely to have the inherited mutation. Knowing which children are at risk of familial melanoma could help doctors catch it early.

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The ASCO Post │ Nov 14, 2013

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New Genetic Test IDs Melanomas

New Genetic Test IDs Melanomas | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

U.S. doctors biopsy about two million possible melanomas each year and diagnoses are uncertain in 280,000 (14%) of them. Now, a new test can separate melanomas from harmless skin lesions on the basis of 23 genes. Called myPath Melanoma, the test was run on 450 skin biopsies and was more than 90% accurate, according to results reported at the 2013 meeting of the American Society of Dermatopathology. On the strength of these results, the $1,500 test is now being piloted by selected dermatopathologists.

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Myriad Genetics│Nov 11, 2013

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Cutting-Edge Cancer Genomics Center to Be Launched in Boston

Cutting-Edge Cancer Genomics Center to Be Launched in Boston | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Four Boston-area cancer research institutes and hospitals are joining to launch a new research and treatment center focused on cancer genomics. (Genomics is the study of the entire genetic material within a cell, tissue, or organism.) The new Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine will combine the expertise and capabilities of its parent institutions, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and the Broad Institute. Using their pooled resources, these organizations intend to promote customized treatment for each individual cancer patient. With the help of powerful new  genetic analysis technologies and computerized data interpretation tools, the center hopes  to answer pressing questions in cancer genetics, like predicting treatment response and preventing or overcoming drug resistance.

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GenomeWeb | Nov 12, 2013

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GenomeWeb | Nov 12, 2013

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GenomeWeb | Nov 12, 2013

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Thinner Melanomas May Warrant Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsies, Too

New research suggests that more people with melanomas should get sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsies. Current guidelines recommend these biopsies when melanomas are more than 1 millimeter (mm) thick. However, the researchers identified 1,250 people who had melanomas thinner than 1 mm, and who had undergone SLN biopsies, and found that cancer cells had spread to the lymph nodes in more than 6% of those with melanomas between 0.75 and 1.00 mm thick. Based on this finding, the researchers call for dropping the thickness threshold for SLN biopsies to 0.75 mm.

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Journal of Clinical Oncology│Nov 4, 2013

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Computer Program Helps Doctors Determine When It’s Time to Test Patients for Cancer

Computer Program Helps Doctors Determine When It’s Time to Test Patients for Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

A new computer program may soon help doctors decide whether patients should get tested for cancer based on their symptoms. The software is not meant to replace the physician’s judgment, but rather supplement it, developers say. Many general practitioners do not have specific cancer expertise, or the time to calculate each patient’s cancer risk in detail–a task made instantaneous by the computer program. The software also analyzes each symptom in the context of all other relevant information in a patient’s record–age, sex, smoking status, family history–along with any other symptoms reported during earlier visits. Ensuring timely testing for patients at risk of cancer is a critical step towards early treatment with a higher chance of success.

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Cancer Research UK | Nov 5, 2013

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Cancer Research UK | Nov 5, 2013

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Blood Test May Reveal When Melanomas Spread

Blood Test May Reveal When Melanomas Spread | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Good news for people with melanoma—a new blood test may show when this cancer has just started to spread. The latest therapies work better when melanomas are still in the early stages and the test could let doctors treat people sooner. The researchers tested blood levels of a gene called TFP12, which normally keeps skin cells from growing out of control. However, this gene gets switched off in melanomas and, the more advanced the cancer, the higher the levels of the 'switched off' version. The researchers also found another gene, called NT5E, that is switched off when melanomas first form. But NT5E can also be switched back on, which makes melanomas spread more aggressively. These findings were reported at the 2013 UK National Cancer Research Institute's Cancer Conference in Liverpool.

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Medical Xpress│Nov 4, 2013

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New Melanoma Immunotherapy Advances in Early Trials

New Melanoma Immunotherapy Advances in Early Trials | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

On the strength of a promising phase I clinical trial, evaluations are continuing for an experimental immunotherapy that targets and selectively kills melanoma cells. Called IMCgp100, the drug has two parts that are fused together. One part is an immune system protein that has been engineered to recognize a protein called gp100, which is on the surface of melanoma cells. The other part of the new drug is a protein fragment that boosts the immune response against the tumor. The phase II trial of IMCgp100 is currently recruiting new participants.

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Immunocore Limited│Oct 31, 2013

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IDing Multiple Mutations Could Expand Cancer Treatment Options

IDing Multiple Mutations Could Expand Cancer Treatment Options | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Many tumors have more than one genetic abnormality and researchers want to be able to identify them all at once. Having multiple targets for therapies could help circumvent the drug resistance that often develops during cancer treatment. New research suggests that this approach may be possible—in a pilot study of nine people, the researchers identified genetic changes more comprehensively by comparing tumor DNA to normal DNA from the same person. The researchers also compared the activity of tumor genes to that of normal genes. Next, they hope to speed the DNA sequencing turnaround time and to optimize the process for verifying treatment targets in tumor biopsies.

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PLOS One│Oct 30, 2013

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PLOS One│Oct 30, 2013

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PLOS One│Oct 30, 2013