New research suggests the activity level of a particular gene in the tumours of women with ovarian cancer is predictive of how well they will respond to chemotherapy.
The study published online yesterday in the British Journal of Cancer looked at differences in expression levels between a number of candidate genes across 187 ovarian tumours. It found that higher activity levels of the fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1) gene were especially associated with more aggressive tumour progression, greater resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy drugs and lower survival.
The researchers found that by blocking FGF1 activity in ovarian cancer cell lines that were resistant to platinum chemotherapy drugs they became responsive to treatment again. FGF1 is known to play a crucial role in enabling tumours to develop the blood vessels that facilitate their continued growth.
The findings suggest FGF1 in ovarian tumours as both an indicator to help predict the likely outcomes of current treatments and as a priority target for future ones. Lead study author Dr Gillian Smith said "Our study paves the way for the development of new tests to determine if chemotherapy will work and suggests that drugs targeting FGF1 could be effective new treatments for a group of women with a type of ovarian cancer that is difficult to treat successfully”.