Brain Cancer Patients With ‘T allele’ Live 5 Months Longer

The T allele is also predictive of a positive response to the standard cancer treatment, temozolomide.

AsianScientist (Jun. 1, 2015) – University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers have discovered a biomarker that can help predict if standard cancer therapy will extend the life of patients with malignant brain tumors.

The discovery means doctors can now better target treatment for patients not sensitive to standard chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The finding may also eventually lead to new approaches for extending life and improving the quality of life for people diagnosed with brain cancer. The study has been published in the journal Neuro-oncology.

The highly aggressive brain tumors, known as glioblastomas (GBM), are considered incurable and have an average survival of less than 15 months. The UNSW study found a significant survival benefit for carriers of the ‘T allele’ biomarker, with a survival rate of 20 months, five months longer than average.

The study compared the tumor DNA of 156 Australian and 159 American patients, diagnosed with GBM and treated with radiotherapy and the chemotherapy drug temozolomide (TMZ), with a control group of 451 patients.

Researchers found 21 percent of patients treated with TMZ and who carried the biomarker survived an average of five months longer than patients without the biomarker.

Lead study author UNSW Associate Professor Kerrie McDonald said extending survival times for patients with highly aggressive brain tumors is one of her research team’s key priorities.

“While five months may not seem like a long time to most people, that is precious time for people living with this aggressive brain cancer,” McDonald said.

“The discovery of new biomarkers that have the capacity to predict a patient’s response to treatment means we can better match individual patients with the most effective treatment.”

McDonald and her team will begin the first clinical trial later this year to test the potential effect of the chemotherapy drug veliparib in GBM patients without the ‘T allele’ biomarker. McDonald is head of the Cure Brain Cancer Neuro-oncology group is based at UNSW’s Lowy Cancer Research Center. The group focuses on precision medicine and tailoring treatment to each individual patient.

The lab achieves this through the ‘bio-banking’ of tumor tissue, whole genome sequencing of the tumor and state of the art mouse models to show that treatments will be effective.

Long-term survival for brain cancer is defined as survival beyond five years, however less than five percent of patients survive this long.

The article can be found at: Rapkins et al. (2015) The MGMT Promoter SNP rs16906252 Is A Risk Factor For MGMT Methylation In Glioblastoma And Is Predictive Of Response To Temozolomide.


Source: The University of New South Wales.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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