Predictive Biomarker Found

The era of one-size-fits-all medicine will eventually be history; after all it is no news that drugs and treatments do not work the same for everyone. For patients with nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a lung cancer that kills approximately one million people annually, the treatment currently available is basically the same for all patients.

Fact is that some patients may respond to treatment while others may not. New biological markers and prognostic tools are urgently needed to help doctors decide on the best course of action for each NSCLC patient. It now appears that this reality is not years away, at least for NSCLC treatment.

Currently, NSCL prognosis is made based on patient's general performance and tumor staging. Still, doctors do not know which patients with NSCLC may survive for only ten months and which for five years. Now, a study presents strong evidence that a protein called cofilin (CFL1) may help doctors in determining patient prognosis and in identifying those in need of a more aggressive treatment. The study also indicates that based on this protein, doctors may decide which drugs to use, and which to avoid, when treating NSCL patients. The possibility of doctors knowing before prescription which drugs are likely to work best for each patient represents a great advance in cancer treatment.

The group of researcher at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil found that cofilin levels can be used to indicate which patients in the early stages of the disease have a good prognosis and which do not. When studying a large collection of NSCL cancer samples, the researchers found that the biopsies in which high levels of cofilin were found were from patients who had survived for shorter periods than those from patients with lower expression of the protein.

Besides the correlation found between cofilin and patient survival, the group also investigated whether cofilin levels could provide any clues on tumor aggressiveness. According to Dr. Fabio Klamt, one of the researchers: "Cofilin is a protein associated with cell mobility. We know that poor prognosis correlates with the ability of cells to move to generate metastasis. Thus, it seemed only reasonable that cells with lower levels of this protein would be less aggressive while higher levels would provide a more aggressive behavior."; Source:
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