Metastatic breast cancer treatment personalization possible

Physicians may be able to more accurately select treatments that will target genomic alterations in women with advanced breast cancer, according to a study published online Feb. 7 by The Lancet Oncology. The study’s findings could also aid in clinical trial design and drug development.

Lead author Fabrice André, MD, PhD, of Institute Gustave Roussy in Villjeuif, France, and colleagues conducted a multicenter molecular screening study to determine abnormalities in 423 patients in order to provide targeted therapy matched to individuals’ genomic alterations. The researchers utilized comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) and Sanger sequencing on PIK3CA and AKT1 to assess metastatic biopsy samples from five of the centers.

The study’s results revealed that 195 of the patients had at least one targetable genomic alteration. Of the 195 patients, 107 had targetable genomic alterations. Thirty-nine percent had a rare alteration, for which many have no existing treatment. CGH was achieved in about two-thirds of the patients.

Serious adverse events were reported in nine patients, and biopsy confirmed an alternative diagnosis in four patients. Therapy was personalized in 55 of the 423 patients.

“This finding emphasizes the need to increase access to drugs for patients shown to have a genomic alteration on screening. This also suggests that scaling up of the number of patients is required to generate robust data on rare genomic alterations. Data sharing would help to generate robust information on rare genomic events,” wrote André and colleagues.

Charles Swanton, PhD, of the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute added in an associated commentary: “In view of the challenges highlighted by SAFIR01, efforts to accelerate genomic analyses for personalized medicine must continue to be embedded within the context of clinical trials, and integrated with scientific and clinical collaborative structures to deliver measurable benefits to patients. The findings of SAFIR01 represent an important first step on this journey.”

To read more about the usefulness of genetic research in determining cancer treatment, click here