Biomarker ‘estimates effectiveness’ of brain cancer treatment

2 July 2014

A newly identified biomarker can predict whether glioblastoma - the most common form of brain cancer - will respond to chemotherapy, according to research from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Dr Clark C Chen, the study’s lead investigator, said: "Every patient diagnosed with glioblastoma is treated with a chemotherapy called temozolomide. About 15 per cent of these patients derive long-lasting benefit.

“We need to identify which patients benefit from temozolomide and which another type of treatment. All therapies involve risk and the possibility of side-effects. Patients should not undergo therapies if there's no likelihood of benefit."

To identify the patients are most likely to respond to the treatment, researchers studied microRNAs, which control the expression of a protein called methyl-guanine-methyl-transferase (MGMT). 

Tumours containing high levels of the protein often display a poor response to temozolomide therapy.

The research team tested every microRNA in the human genome to find those that suppressed MGMT expression, as they theorised that high-levels of the molecules would predict an improved response to chemotherapy.

Dr Chen claims his team’s theory was correct and validation of the results should lead to diagnostic tools to identify which glioblastoma patients will benefit the most from temozolomide therapy.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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