Genes May Boost Lung Cancer Chemo
Finding May Mean Some Patients Can Take Lower Doses of Chemotherapy
April 11, 2007 -- Certain genes may make some lung cancer patients more
sensitive to chemotherapy, a new study shows.
If so, those lung cancer patients may be able to take lower doses of
chemotherapy, note the researchers, who work in Dallas at the University of
Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
They screened more than 21,000 genes in human lung cancer cells.
Specifically, all of the lung cancer cells were non-small-cell lung cancer, the
most common type of lung cancer.
Of the genes studied, 87 were particularly sensitive to the chemotherapy
drug Taxol in a series of lab tests.
Some of those genes were 1,000 times more sensitive to Taxol when exposed to
Taxol for 48 hours, compared with genes that weren't especially sensitive to
So far, the scientists haven't studied the genes in animals or people. But
if the findings apply to people, it may help doctors determine the lowest chemo
dose that patients require.
Chemotherapy is used to help kill cancer cells and to prevent cancer's
But chemotherapy is a "very blunt instrument" that can cause side
effects, researcher and cell biologist Michael White, PhD, says in a news
"Identifying genes that make chemotherapy drugs more potent at lower
doses is a first step toward alleviating these effects in patients," says
White's team also tested six Taxol-sensitive genes with two other
chemotherapy drugs, Navelbine and Gemzar. The Taxol-sensitive genes weren't
very sensitive to those drugs, the study shows.
The study appears in Nature.