Medical

Cancer-causing gene could help predict treatment effectiveness

Blood analysis may indicate how patients will respond to treatment for head and neck cancer
Blood analysis may indicate how patients will respond to treatment for head and neck cancer
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Blood analysis may indicate how patients will respond to treatment for head and neck cancer
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Blood analysis may indicate how patients will respond to treatment for head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancer is currently thesixth most common cancer on the planet, but up until now nobiomarkers have been discovered to predict the response of tumors totreatment. A new study, conducted by researchers at the University ofCincinnati, hopes to change that fact, looking to the detection ofthe cancer-causing gene DEK in patient plasma.

The human DEK gene has, in the past, beenconfirmed to promote cancer, and it's found in high quantities in the tumortissue of neck and head cancer patients, regardless of how far thecancer has progressed. In the knowledge that white blood cellssecrete DEK protein, the researchers decided to look for the gene inthe plasma of cancer patients, hoping that it might be possible touse the resulting data to assess how the disease might respond totreatment.

Blood samples were collected frompatients with newly diagnosed, untreated head and neck cancer,alongside control samples taken from healthy patients. Separating theplasma from the samples, the researchers administered anenzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, which uses antibodiesand changes color to identify substances.

The results showed that DEK was presentin the plasma of both healthy patients and those diagnosed withcancer, but at decreased levels in those with the disease. Thereadings also revealed a reverse correlation with IL-6 – asubstance secreted by T cells, which are central to the immune system.

The researchers believe that the datamay indeed be useful in predicting treatment outcome, with higher DEKlevels in plasma likely preducting better immunotherapy results.

"This information will be importantto verify DEK plasma measurements as a clinically useful test and maygive insight to future personalized and targeted treatment strategiesfor head and neck cancer," said study lead Trisha Wise-Draper.

The team is continuing its research,working to determine whether specific DEK levels can be used toaccurately predict response to various different treatments.

The findings of the study will bepresented at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium inScottsdale, Arizona this week.

Source: University of Cincinnati

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