New trial will use PET to develop better cancer treatment

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A new trial has begun at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, in which researchers will use PET imaging to try to discover why chemotherapy works for some, but does not work for all other sufferers of oesophageal and gastric cancers.

The hope is that the study will pave the way for personalized treatment for patients maximizing its chances of success and preventing chemotherapy being given when it will not work, according to lead study author Russell Petty, PhD, a clinical senior lecturer in medical oncology and consultant medical oncologist of the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian.

Charity Friends of ANCHOR has given Petty and colleagues £220,000 ($321,000 U.S.) to use two technologies to study samples from patients with oesophageal and stomach cancers.

Researchers are recruiting 42 patients from across the northeast who face chemotherapy prior to surgery to remove their tumors.

Tumor biopsies will then be taken and scrutinized using PET imaging. These samples will also be studied using a Genechip machine, which rapidly analyzes all 35,000 genes in the human genome.

Patients will then undergo chemotherapy and two weeks later another biopsy will be taken and again the sample will be analyzed using both techniques, the researchers said.

"We hope this will enable us to predict whether or not the patient is going to respond to chemotherapy as only half will respond and benefit from the treatment which has a range of nasty side effects,” Petty explained. “This research will help us move towards personalized and optimized cancer therapy and, in the future, the results of this study may enable us to predict before treatment begins how a patient is likely to respond.”