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Gene variations point to why lung cancer drugs work better in Japanese vs. US patients

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Last year, a groundbreaking international project found that a group of Japanese patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer survived longer and had a higher rate of side effects than U.S. patients with the same diagnosis,.when both groups were given two well-known drugs for the disease.

Now, a follow-up study suggests the reasons appear to lie in subtle variations in certain genes that govern how the body metabolizes chemotherapy drugs. David Gandara, M.D., a University of California, Davis researcher who led the recent Southwest Oncology Group study, will present the results Saturday, June 2, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

The discovery that Japanese and U.S. patients, matched in age, gender and other respects, had differences in key metabolism-related genes is the latest result from a seven-year collaboration between the Southwest Oncology Group and two clinical trials groups in Japan. Gandara, who leads lung cancer trial efforts for the Southwest Oncology Group, is director of clinical research at the University of California, Davis, Cancer Center. The Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) is the largest federally funded U.S. cancer trials network.

The recent SWOG study breaks new ground by exploring the possible role of ethnic patterns in the emerging science of pharmacogenomics, which promises to tailor drug regimens to a patients genetic profile. Nobody else in the world has ever done this, with a common arm looking at genetic differences among ethnic groups, Gandara says.

Researchers looked at DNA from 156 patients who received the chemotherapy drugs paclitaxel and carboplatin in a SWOG clinical trial and one conducted by the Japan Multicenter Trial Organization. In the trials, half the Japanese patients survived one year, while slightly more than one-third of U.S. patients did. The Japanese patients as a group survived longer despite the fact that a significant n
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Contact: Anne Rueter
arueter@umich.edu
734-998-7130
University of Michigan Health System
2-Jun-2007


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