Tags: Cancer | cancer | treatment | exceptional | responders

'Exceptional Responders' Offer Clues to Cancer Treatment

Thursday, 09 October 2014 04:10 PM

Some cancer patients respond to drug treatments much better than others. Now researchers are studying so-called “exceptional responders” in an attempt to help all patients, The New York Times reports.
 
With the advent of rapid and inexpensive gene sequencing, the National Cancer Institute has started a nationwide search for such patients to try to figure out the genetic changes that may have allowed them to respond.
 
The New England Journal of Medicine published a case history on the issue this week, concluding that studies of such patients may help doctors treat thousands of patients with breast and bladder cancer, and even find an alternative when a drug stops working.
 
Barbara Conley, M.D., a lead investigator for the new cancer institute effort, said she and her colleagues had been inspired by a couple of published papers on exceptional responders and genetic analyses that revealed why they reacted the way they did.
 
One study at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center tested a drug called everolimus that is approved for kidney and breast cancer. Researchers asked if it could treat bladder cancer. Forty-five patients received the drug. But the drug was effective in two patients, leading researchers to conclude that studying them might explain why and offer clues to helping others.
 
Dr. Conley said NCI researchers are looking back at a variety of early-phase clinical trials of drugs that had been abandoned because, on average, they did not help patients. Were there some participants who had been helped — some exceptional responders?
 
 “Yes, they were actually there,” Dr. Conley said. “Ten percent, maybe less, had this response.”
 
On Sept. 24, the cancer institute said it was sending letters to cancer doctors seeking exceptional responders. The researchers are hoping for tumor samples from 300 such patients, Dr. Conley said, and want to find 100 whose tumor samples contain enough tissue for analysis.

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Cancer patients who respond to drug treatments much better than others are being studied in a new federal attempt to help all people with cancer.
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2014-10-09
Thursday, 09 October 2014 04:10 PM
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