This site is intended for health professionals only

Scientists predict response to drug

Women’s cancer treatment could be “personalised” in the future after it was revealed that scientists have developed a way of predicting how a body might react to a particular drug.

Patients suffering with breast cancer react differently to the drug Herceptin, which is given to people with high levels of a protein called HER2. Some fail to respond to the drug while others can develop a resistance to it.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh now claim to have developed a model that can predict its effect on someone’s body. The team at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer research unit at the Western General Hospital say they have identified a particular protein that is related to resistance to anti-HER2 therapy.

The findings of the research, which examined 122 samples of metastatic breast cancer tumours treated with Herceptin, are published in the journal Cancer Research.

Pathologist Dr Dana Faratian said: “This work is a major step forward because despite Herceptin benefiting thousands of women, it does not work for some patients. The impact of this new approach could be huge.

“It shows we can use computer modelling to answer clinical questions and potentially refine the treatment of women with breast cancer”.

Copyright Press Association 2009

University of Edinburgh

Be in the know
Subscribe to Hospital Pharmacy Europe newsletter and magazine