QIMR Berghofer is developing diagnostic tests to predict how a patient will respond to their initial cancer treatment and the likelihood of their cancer spreading. Personalised treatments would result in fewer side effects, and ultimately higher rates of survival.
Currently, there are no clinically available tests that can accurately identify at the time of diagnosis which patients will obtain a survival benefit from standard treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, and which patients will not respond. This means simply that some patients are ‘under treated’ while others are ‘over treated’ at initial diagnosis. Both scenarios can have potentially devastating implications.
QIMR Berghofer scientists have developed a diagnostic test, the integrated Cancer Recurrence Score (iCRS), which measures the activation of defined genes in a patient’s tumour at the time of diagnosis, to help determine their risk of disease progression and response to treatment. Based on the outcomes of these diagnostic tests, clinicians would be able to personalise the treatments of breast cancer, and spare some patients unnecessary treatments and side effects.
In addition to looking at which genes are activated in the iCRS, two other diagnostic tools are also in development that look at the role of specific protein targets. New diagnostic tests like these can help us identify which patients are likely to have aggressive tumours or experience a relapse, allowing early intervention and personalised treatment, and reducing the risk of future complications.
“New diagnostic tests can help us identify which patients are likely to have aggressive tumours or experience a relapse, allowing early intervention and personalised treatment, and reducing the risk of future complications.” — Dr Fares Al-Ejeh, Personalised Medicine Laboratory
Infographic statistics: Breast Cancer Network of Australia, bcna.org.au