Researchers find blood marker that defines which patients will respond to colorectal cancer drug

Dr. Geoffrey Liu explains the blood marker that helps identify which patients will respond to a cancer drug. #ConquerCancer


Dr. Liu: Approximately ten years ago, there was a clinical trial that was led by Canadians, and an international trial, that looked at a new drug at that time and its role in metastatic colorectal cancer patients. And this drug at that time was being tested in a very specific group of Haitians who had already had in some cases many months or years of chemotherapy. And they had they were running out of options at that time, so the very important thing about that trial was the fact that that drug was found to be effective in a certain subset of patients.

From that point onwards, and because of that trial, this drug was then approved for use in colorectal cancer patients. Unfortunately this truck doesn't work in every single patient, and the race was on to find out how to actually decide which patients would benefit which patients would not.

A few years later, also based on studies and analysis of some of the tissues taken and collected as part of this trial, they discovered a marker in the tumour, and that marker was found to be really useful in helping make decisions on which patients would benefit and which patients would not.

But even then, half of the patients benefited and half of them did not benefit from this drug. Now, this drug itself is quite expensive and can produce a number of important side effects. So it becomes very important to try to find other means to personalize this cancer treatment. What we found was that instead of just looking at aspects of the tumour that, there were certain things in the blood that we could use to measure. And in this case we were able to just cover a marker, called FCGR2A, that identifies a new group of patients who benefit from this drug.

So with this finding, we can move forward with introducing this into the clinical setting.

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