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Home News and Update Year 2010 'Target Therapy' Hope For Colon Cancer Patients

'Target Therapy' Hope For Colon Cancer Patients

Times of India
27 September 2010
Kolkata, India

A new targeted therapy, induced by a research that has identified a gene which triggers colon cancer, holds out hope for thousands of patients in eastern India. Widely prevalent in this part of the country, colon cancer patients account for nearly 9% of all cancer patients in Kolkata. A trial carried out on patients at a city research facility has shown that drugs targeted at the particular gene effectively stalls the progression of the disease. The mode of treatment is yet to begin formally across the world.

'Target Therapy' Hope For Colon Cancer Patients
"We got in touch with researchers in Sweden who conducted the study and sought permission for a trial. So far, we have tried the screening and the therapy on 16 patients and the results have been very encouraging. This will help make colon cancer treatment more precise," said Chinmoy Bose, who led the research at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute (NSCBCRI).

Two types of genes have been found to trigger colon cancer — a mutated gene and a wild type. The latter variety is more prevalent in the eastern part of the country, according to oncologists. So far, drugs would be prescribed to counter the mutated gene while there was none for the wild type as its existence hadn’t been discovered. Patients with the latter gene would suffer as drugs wouldn’t neutralize that.

"Drugs would be prescribed blindly and they would seldom work as the majority of patients had the other gene. Now that it has been uncovered, the target therapy is yielding good results," said Ashish Mukhopadhyay, director, NSCBCRI.

But the experts had a warning. Target therapy can be applied only after conventional chemotherapy has failed to deliver satisfactory results. At least three rounds of chemotherapy have to precede the screening. "If it doesn’t work, then we switch to target therapy, which is more time-consuming and expensive. Our study shows that an overwhelming majority of the patients has the wild type gene.

This also lets us segregate those with the mutated gene and prescribe drugs accordingly," said Bose. The response to the therapy has been encouraging. "Though it’s still too early, we expect the therapy to reduce cancerous cells and tumours appreciably. This may not cure colon cancer completely but will help retard the spread of cancer cells," added Bose.

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