New Biomarkers Classify Outcomes of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers

Protein patterns in tumors, blood serum predictive of who would fare better, studies find

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THURSDAY, June 7, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- New algorithms that use mass spectrometry techniques to classify outcomes of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients are outlined in two studies in the June 6 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Currently, doctors do not have adequate methods for determining the prognosis of NSCLC patients or for identifying which patients will benefit from certain treatment options. These new algorithms could prove helpful in both areas, according to background information in a news release about the studies.

In one study, a team of international researchers developed an algorithm to predict the outcomes of NSCLC patients treated with two tyrosine kinase inhibitors -- gefitinib and erlotinib. The algorithm is based on the pattern of a group of proteins in a patient's blood serum.

A test of the algorithm showed that patients predicted to have a good survival outcome after treatment survived for a median of 306 days, while patients predicted to have a poor outcomes survived for a median of 107 days.

"In the clinical development of biomarkers for the individualization of therapy, it is important to distinguish between those that can accurately classify patients according to whether they will benefit from an intervention and those that simply portend a favorable or unfavorable prognosis, independent of the planned intervention. Biomarkers predictive for survival benefit from an intervention are much more useful for guiding management," the study authors wrote.

In the second study, Japanese researchers collected and analyzed protein patterns in NSCLC tumor tissue and normal lung tissue. They identified a pattern that was associated with increased survival among NSCLC patients and which may help differentiate patients with a good prognosis and a poor prognosis.

"Consequently, use of the (protein) signature to identify high-risk patients could reduce rates of both over-treatment and under-treatment and improve survival for NSCLC patients," the study authors wrote.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about non-small cell lung cancer.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, June 5, 2007

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