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An increasing understanding of molecular pathways that regulate breast and colorectal cancer development and progression has produced new therapeutic agents, including the biologic agents trastuzumab, bevacizumab and cetuximab. Identifying the indicators that are likely to predict which patients will achieve the best response to these agents represents a major challenge for contemporary oncologists.
Researchers from the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, part of Temple's College of Science and Technology, and the Human Health Foundation report that in a multidisciplinary study of 420 non-diabetic, breast and metastatic colorectal cancer patients treated with targeted agents, lower levels of pretreatment fasting glucose were predictive of longer times to disease progression. Such evidence was particularly significant in breast cancer patients, according to results published in the Annals of Oncology.
“These findings may have important clinical implications in the management and prognosis of breast cancer patients,” said Maddelena Barba, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “If additional prospective and experimental studies corroborate our findings, two main consequences could be hypothesized. First, these patients would be subject to very tight blood sugar control. Second, the threshold for treatment of blood glucose would change dramatically. This could potentially affect time to disease progression and increase survival, leading the way to new avenues for exploring underlying resistance to targeted agent-based regimens.”
“This study represents an important step towards the understanding of the complex biological behavior of this type of aggressive cancer,” says Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Sbarro Institute. “Now, for the next step, it is extremely important to try to develop more knowledge about the function of key molecules involved in cell growth in order to be more specific in designing smart drugs that could specifically block tumors. By studying this at-risk population we can better understand the molecular pathways that are behind the drugs used to fight normal cancer cells.”