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DNA studies suggest the way for more effective cancer treatments

WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say DNA research suggests cancer treatment will increasingly focus on its genetic fingerprint rather than on the organ where it originated.

The findings come out of research in a large-scale project by the National Institutes of Health to analyze DNA mutations in common cancers, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

One finding was that, genetically, endometrial cancer, a cancer of the uterine lining, closely resemble ovarian and breast cancers, suggesting future therapies could focus on the possibility the three forms of the disease might respond to treatment using the same drugs, researchers said.

The similarity between breast, ovarian, and endometrial tumors strongly suggests cancers can be more usefully classified by their gene mutations than by where they originate, said Jeff Boyd, executive director of the cancer genome institute at Fox Chase Cancer Center who was not involved in the NIH study.

“It is very rewarding — I can’t overstate it,” he said of the research that validated a view already held by many scientists with real-world data.

Knowing which genes are mutated in particular cancers could allow researchers to investigate drugs or treatments that target those genes, researchers said.

“We have the basic playbook,” study leader Timothy Ley of Washington University in St. Louis said. “We finally know what the major pathways are and what all the major mutations look like.”

“Within two or three years, risk assessment may be dramatically better,” he said. “It certainly sets the stage for the next era of therapy.”

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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