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Gene-based screen sorts cancer cases, say Stanford researchers

36 most likely candidates. They then analyzed how active those genes were in 66 tumor samples from people with diffuse large-B-cell lymphoma who had been treated at Stanford. The results of this work are published in the April 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

On its own, none of the genes predicted how long a patient lived after treatment. But six of the genes taken together could predict how long the 66 patients survived. Researchers then tested the predictive power of those six genes in patients who participated in two previous microarray studies. In this combined group of 298 patients the six genes once again distinguished between patients who responded well to treatment and those who did not.

Rather than using microarray technology to analyze the genes' activity, Levy and his colleagues worked with scientists at Applied Biosystems Inc. to develop a screen using a technique called RT-PCR. This approach would be easier for medical labs, which already use RT-PCR for other disease tests. Levy said although microarrays and RT-PCR give similar information, the new test is more likely to become widely used if it is easy to incorporate into existing medical labs. "You want to introduce something that helps people do what they are doing now - but better," he said.

He added that the group still needs to check how well the six genes discriminate between good and bad responders in additional groups of patients, especially those who are receiving therapies that weren't available when the original patients were treated. If the test can still predict those who need the most aggressive treatment, the researchers will move forward with making the screen widely available. He said doctors would likely combine information from the IPI clinical index with results from the six-gene screen to decide how best to treat the patient.

Postdoctoral scholar Izidore Lossos, MD, was the first author on the paper. Other collaborators include Debr
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Contact: Amy Adams
650-723-3900
Stanford University Medical Center
28-Apr-2004


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