Health Watch — Cancer Treatment: Gene Screening

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

We haven’t yet defeated cancer, but scientists continue their efforts to find better ways to treat the disease. This week on Health Watch, we’ll look at some recent advances in cancer research.

Chemotherapy is one of the main cancer treatments, and while it can be effective in treating cancer, it’s also toxic to normal cells and can cause serious side effects. But what if we could find a way to make chemotherapy drugs more effective at lower levels? That’s what some researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have done. Using a gene screening technique, they found 87 specific genes that appear to affect how effective certain chemotherapy drugs are. Turning off or “silencing” these genes may make the drugs work better at lower doses. Dr. Michael White, a UT Southwestern cell biologist, says this is the first step toward reducing side effects from chemotherapy.


June 2007

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