The effectiveness of chemotherapy depends on two things. Firstly, how much of the drug is able to enter a cancer cell and secondly, how much is able to act on the target inside of this cell.
Targets of the chemoetherapy may be the cell machinery or special proteins called enzymes. Different forms of some enzymes, called polymorphisms, are found in different people and this can affect the way in which a person responds to a particular drug.
This study, carried out by Dr Rachael Windsor at University College London, investigated if these polymorphisms can effect a patients response to chemotherapy and any long-term side-effects these patients face.
The study of how genes affect a persons response to drugs is known as ‘pharmacogenomics’ and aims to develop personalised treatments.
What does this research mean for patients?
Dr Windsor and her team took blood samples from patients in order to investigate the genes in the sample as well as any chemotherapy toxicities. This created the first ever study to investigate pharmacogenetics in osteosarcoma and represented the most comprehensive investigation of the role of a patient’s genetic make-up on chemotherapy toxicity and patient outcome in this tumour type.