Genetic Mutations Could Predict Patients Likely to Benefit from New Class of Cancer Drugs

Genetic Mutations Could Predict Patients Likely to Benefit from New Class of Cancer Drugs
Testing for mutations in ARID1A, a gene that is commonly mutated in ovarian cancers, may help predict which patients are likely to respond to a novel class of drugs currently in clinical development, new research found. The study, "ATR inhibitors as a synthetic lethal therapy for tumours deficient in ARID1A," published in Nature Communications, shows that these drugs, called ATR inhibitors, can halt the growth of cancer cells with ARID1A mutations, both in culture and in mice. "By identifying a potential way to exploit a specific genetic vulnerability in cancer this research could point the way to tailoring treatments to each patient, helping to make them kinder and more effective," Dr. Justine Alford, Cancer Research UK's senior science information officer, said in a press release. ATR is a critical component of the cellular machinery that is involved in DNA damage response and in preventing the cells from dividing when DNA damages exist. In cancer, the exacerbated cell proliferation often renders the cells more dependent on these ATR functions, suggesting that blocking ATR could be a promising approach to help treat a number of cancers. Currently, ATR inhibitors are already in clinical trials for solid tumors, but researchers lacked useful biomarkers that predicted which patients would respond better to such therapies. Now, a team at The Institute of Cancer Research in London found that cancer cells with ARID1A mutations were particularly more sensitive to
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Inês Martins holds a BSc in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at Universidade de Lisboa. Her work has been focused on blood vessels and their role in both hematopoiesis and cancer development.

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