U study links genes and cancer survival rate

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs Masonic Cancer Center has found that gene combinations are linked with a personâÄôs ability to survive cancer. The study, released Wednesday, looked at 150 myeloma patients across the United States and looked at their genetic profiles. Myeloma is a plasma cell cancer which is expected to affect more than 19,000 Americans this year, according to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. After researchers looked at the patientsâÄô tissue samples, they lined up each patientâÄôs DNA profile with how long they survived the cancer. The study found that there was a link between the genes a person inherits and the length of time they survived the cancer. University of Minnesota professor Brian Van Ness led the study. He said genes have a significant impact on how people react to cancer and treatments. âÄúThe genes you inherit can impact how the therapy works,âÄù Van Ness said. The study was sponsored by the International Myeloma Foundation . David Girard, the foundationâÄôs executive director , said other similar research is being done with different forms of cancer. âÄúThis is becoming a model for how most cancers are being looked at,âÄù he said. Van Ness said he hopes that this and future studies will start genetic profiles for patients so they can receive personalized treatments for different illnesses. âÄúFrequently thereâÄôs a whole library of drugs that can be given to people,âÄù he said. âÄúThe question is which drug is the right drug for the right patient at the right dose.âÄù Van Ness also said he thinks this study is a step towards personalized treatments. âÄúIn about 10 years, people will have genetic profiles that impact what therapies they get,âÄù he said. âÄúWhat will drive personalized medicine is genetic profiling.âÄù University senior Jenna Langer said she thinks personalized treatments would help. She is a member of Colleges Against Cancer , a student group. She survived two different types of cancer. She said she received various treatments for her condition, but some of them didnâÄôt work. âÄúI got sicker on chemotherapy than a lot of people do,âÄù she said. âÄúI reacted differently.âÄù She attributed part of her condition to the rarity of her cancer. Some of her initial therapies didnâÄôt work, she said, and doctors had to try different ones until one worked. If doctors could predict appropriate treatments through genetic profiles, she said, it would benefit cancer patients. âÄúIt would probably dispel a lot of the trial and error,âÄù she said. âÄúTo be able to predict that based on genetics would be amazing.âÄù Van Ness said even though progress is being made, genetic profiling is not ready for clinical practice. âÄúYou have to validate the study in another study to make sure that whatever you identified is really going to hold up,âÄù he said.