A Step Toward Personalized Asthma Treatment, Gene Variant Linked to Drug Response

Inhaled corticosteroids are used by millions of asthma patients every day. However, as with all treatments to control asthma, there is marked patient-to-patient variability in the response to treatment. New research published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has identified a genetic variant associated with the response to inhaled corticosteroids [1]. Investigators have found that asthma patients who have two copies of a specific gene variant responded only one-third as well to steroid inhalers as those with two copies of the regular gene.

Asthmatic using an inhaler

Sun Exposure, Vitamin D Can Affect Breakdown of Medicines

Genetic variation has been though to be responsible for the differences between people to metabolize certain drugs. The results of a recent study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden suggest that it may be even more complicated. Swedish reserchers have found that the body’s ability to break down medicines may be closely related to sunlight exposure and vitamin D, and thus may vary with the seasons. The study, published in the journal Drug Metabolism & Disposition, offers a completely new model to explain individual differences in the effects of drugs [1].

Sunlight can influence the breakdown of medicines in the body

IU Announces Plans for a Personalized Medicine Institute

Earlier this month, Indiana University announced a major commitment to research in one of healthcare’s most promising fields, personalized medicine. The Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine will pursue genome-based and pharmacogenomics studies in cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics and cancer, as well as other areas [1]. The emergence of personalized medicine, which targets individualized treatment and care based on personal and genetic variation, is creating a thriving market. Indeed, the market for personalized medicine in the United States is $232 billion and is projected to grow 11% annually [2].

1000 Genomes Project Publishes Analysis of Completed Pilot Phase

Small genetic differences between individuals help explain why some people have a higher risk than others for developing illnesses such as diabetes or cancer. Recently in the journal Nature, the 1000 Genomes Project, an international public-private consortium, published the most comprehensive map of these genetic differences, called variations, estimated to contain approximately 95 percent of the genetic variation of any person on Earth.

Cancer Research Blog Carnival #38 – Breast Cancer

Welcome to the 38th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, the monthly blog carnival that discusses what’s new in cancer research. In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this edition’s focus is on breast cancer.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.
October is all about pink

Breast Cancer Awareness Month — also referred to as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) — is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

In 2010, the American Cancer Society estimates that 207,090 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, approximately 54,010 women will be diagnosed with carcinoma in situ (CIS; the earliest non-invasive form of breast cancer), and approximately 39,840 women will die from breast cancer [1]. Indeed, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, following lung cancer.

Self breast exam

In 1975, a woman had a 1 in 11 chance of developing invasive breast cancer some time in her life — today, the chance is even greater at 1 in 8. Although the risk has increased, deaths due to breast cancer have been declining: from 1990 — 2006, death rates decreased by 3.2% per year among women younger than 50, and by 2.0% per year among women 50 and older [2]. This decline in breast cancer mortality has been attributed to improvements in breast cancer treatment and early detection [3].

Animal research has contributed significantly to advances in breast cancer treatment. Animal studies were essential for the development of two front-line drugs that shrink breast cancer tumors, Herceptin and Tamoxifen. Since their mechanisms of action are different, they are used to treat different types of tumors. The drug Tamoxifen blocks tumor growth by blocking the action of estrogen, a hormone involved in the growth of most breast cancers. Tamoxifen binds to the estrogen receptor and blocks estrogen from docking to it. The drug Herceptin binds to another growth-regulating receptor protein called HER2, blocking it’s action and shrinking the tumor. Indeed, there is great value in animal research for the development of treatments to fight breast cancer.

Let’s find out what’s happening this month with breast cancer research.