Using the latest tools for genomic analysis, researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Massachusetts have been able to distinguish which of a group of cancer patients will be cured and which will die (Nature Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 68, 01 Jan 02). This form of diagnostic analysis is the first in a new line of techniques based on knowledge from the human genome that will revolutionize healthcare.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common lymphoid cancer in adults, and over 50% of patients die from the cancer. Currently, the outcome of many cancers is predicted from assessment of the clinical status of the cancer-tumor size, age of patient, etc. However, gene activities that determine the biological behavior of a tumor are more likely to reflect its aggressiveness.
Todd Golub and colleagues used a technology called microarray analysis, which allows the genomic activity of a tissue to be analyzed in terms of its gene expression pattern. The scientists analyzed the expression of 6,817 genes in tissues from patients with DLBCL and found that, based on their gene expression profile, they could be divided into two groups with 5 year survival rates of 70% and 12%. Further determinations were made on those who were more likely to die or be cured.
Laura Van't Veer and Daphne de Jong discuss the technique in an accompanying News and Views article (p. 13). Based on such microarray analysis, some patients could be selected for different forms of chemotherapy.
Dr. Todd R. Golub
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Genome Research
Tel: +1 617 632 4903
Fax: +1 617 632 4850
Dr. Laura J. Van't Veer
The Netherlands Cancer Institute
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital
Tel: +31 20 5122754
Fax: +31 20 5122759
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza