Faulty Wiring Causes Cancer Drugs to Fizzle

Discovery of key gene FBW7 answers question of "dud" cancer drugs

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Stay with me, this is a pretty cool discovery. Some cancer tumors are immune to some cancer drugs. And now we might know why, which can help us figure out what we can do about it.

According to the discovery there is a gene that, when missing from the human body, causes cancer drugs to be ineffective at destroying tumors. The gene is called FBW7 and has been shown in the past to prevent or slow cancer cells from growing, but now it has also been noticed that when a cancer drug does not work, FBW7 is missing from that patient’s DNA.

dailyRx Insight: Knowing that you don't have the FBW7 gene tells your doctor right off the bat to try something else.              

The experiments and conclusions came from two different research teams that were not working together yet came to the same conclusion; that the missing FBW7 gene made some cancer drugs useless against some tumors.

So how does this help cancer patient’s? Well, your doctor can do a simple test to see whether or not you have the FBW7 gene. If you do have the gene, then good. If you do not have the FBW7 gene, then your doctor will not waste time giving you drugs that will not work on you, and find a different way to fight the tumor.

Cancer is diagnosed in over 12 million people each year, and kills over 7 million. It is the largest cause of death in the developing world, and one out of ever three people will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer at some point in their lifetime. Cancer is a group of diseases classified by abnormal and uncontrolled cellular growth in a particular organ or tissue type in the body. When the growth invades other tissues, causes damage to them, or spreads to different parts of the body it is considered malignant. Cancer is caused by a multitude of factors including genetics and infections, but a majority of cancers can be attributed to environmental causes, such as smoking, and being exposed to carcinogens or radiation. Symptoms of cancer are variable. In some cases, the cancer will produce symptoms that affect the organ it is located in, such as coughing and shortness of breath from a lung cancer, constipation and bloody stools from colon cancer, or headaches and cognitive problems from a brain cancer. Other cancers such as leukemia and blood cancers may produce flu-like symptoms and sudden infections. Some cancers may be discovered by a lump, or physical evidence, such as in breast cancer. Treatment for cancer is usually one of or a combination of surgery to remove it, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Newer treatments such as hormonal drugs and targeted drugs are making cancer treatment even more specific to the patient and the disease. Diagnosis is based off of physical examination and several imaging techniques such as MRI, PET scan, and laparoscopy. Definitive diagnosis is achieved when a pathologist examines a piece of cancerous tissue.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 14, 2011
Last Updated:
March 15, 2011