Stomach Cancer Up Close

Stomach cancer genetic mutation may lead to new therapies

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

(RxWiki News) More than ever before, scientists are focusing on the genetic mutations as the root cause of cancer. Stomach cancer treatments may focus on specific gene mutations for best results.

A recent study isolated a specific gene mutation common to stomach cancer.

These research results could open doors for gene-targeting treatments in the future.

"Talk to your doctor about your best treatment plan."

Patrick Tan, MD, PhD, from Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School in Singapore, led investigations into gene silencing for stomach cancer.

Dr. Tan said, “Gastric cancer is a heterogenous [not uniform] disease with individual patients often displaying markedly different responses to the same treatment.”

“Improving gastric cancer clinical outcomes will require molecular approaches capable of subdividing patients into biologically similar subgroups, and designing subtype-specific therapies for each group.”

For the study, 240 gastric cancers were compared to 94 normal stomach tissue samples for genetic analysis.

DNA strands in the stomach cells have “CpG sites”, where an atom from the methyl group can hop into the sequence to mutate the gene without changing the actual DNA sequence.

This process is called “methylation” and is not a result of genetics, but rather environmental factors.

Cancer specific gene mutations were found in 44 percent of CpG methylation occurrences of the tumor samples.

A total of 25 percent of these alterations indicated the presence of cancer.

This particular subgroup of methylation was more likely to be found in younger patients and difficult to treat patients.

Researchers propose these types of tumors could be treated with demethylating drugs like 5-azacytidine, Vidaza, and 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine, Dacogen, in a clinical setting.

Both of these drugs are already available for use for bone marrow cancer and blood cell disorders.

Dr. Tan concluded, “Our results strongly demonstrate that gastric cancer is not one disease but a conglomerate [grouping] of multiple diseases, each with a different underlying biology and hallmark features.”

This study was published in October in Science Translational Medicine.

Funding for this study was provided by grants from the National Medical Research Council, Biomedical Research Council, Duke-National University of Singapore and Cancer Sciences Institute of Singapore.

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 16, 2012
Last Updated:
October 17, 2012