OncoTrack, a public-private consortium supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) joint undertaking, has conducted one of Europe’s largest collaborative academic-industry research projects to develop and assess novel approaches for identification of new markers for colon cancer. Scientists from the OncoTrack Consortium, including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin and the company Alacris Theranostics, have analyzed tumor samples from cancer patients in a preclinical study. In particular, the scientists looked for biomarkers, i.e. molecules that are typical of the different tumor subgroups and provide valuable information for diagnosis and potential treatment. Among other things, the research team discovered molecules that can predict the effectiveness of two drugs commonly used to treat this disease: Cetuximab and the chemotherapy drug 5FU. The scientists identified the genetic composition of the tumors and analyzed their so-called transcriptome, namely the set of all RNA molecules synthesized in a given tissue. Based on this analysis, they were able to produce a definite molecular fingerprint for all of the tumors. The consortium team identified two such biomarkers, which predict whether either the EGFR inhibitors Cetuximab or the chemotherapy 5FU could trigger a successful response in colorectal cancer.
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