A Breakthrough In Pre-Testing Effectiveness of Chemotherapy

When chemotherapy is recommended as a cancer treatment, no one knows how effective it may be. One simply hopes. But in this month's journal of Radiology, researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University describe a method of assessing whether a tumor is a good candidate for chemotherapy or not.

The relative effectiveness of chemotherapy depends on how easily cancer drugs can access the target tumors. If the tumor has "leaky" blood vessels, chemotherapy drugs have the best chance of getting inside the tumor where they can be effective. The team of researchers developed a digital mammography based test to check the level of "leakiness" of the blood vessels.

The subjects in this study were six laboratory rats with tumors. They were injected first with a contrast agent, a dye that shows up under x-ray, and the researchers quantified the level of dye that permeated the tumors in each rat. Then, the rats were injected with a clinically approved chemotherapy drug, liposomal doxorubicin.

After a three-day test, the tumors that revealed the leakiest blood vessels in response to the dye also showed the most beneficial response to the cancer drug when injected.

Though the researchers in this Georgia Tech/Emory University study want to study the molecular basis for leakiness in tumor blood vessels, the current study does show that prior knowledge of how a particular treatment will affect each tumor will help doctors and patients to consider alternatives before committing to one therapy. It may even be that another chemotherapy drug would be better received by the blood vessels.

via R&D Magazine


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