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Dutch Researchers Head SU2C Tumor Profiling Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A group of Dutch-led research partners will use a €1.2 million ($1.5 million) grant awarded under a collaboration with Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) to fund a genomics-based project seeking to use tumor profiles to predict patient response to cancer treatments.

The funding was provided by a 2010 Dutch television fundraising event, and was awarded through a process run by the Dutch Cancer Society, while the American Association for Cancer Research served as SU2C's scientific partner.

The study will be led by scientists at the University Medical Center Utrecht and the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and will include the participation of researchers at Erasmus Medical Center, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, San Diego.

The aim of the project is to identify new ways to use DNA analysis to select the most appropriate treatments for patients from three clinical studies, one focused on breast cancer and two on colorectal tumors.

The partners will collect DNA samples from patients' tumors before and two months after the start of their treatments, and then plan to correlate the genetic changes between the second and first samples with the outcomes of the patients' treatments.

The researchers will then generate DNA profiles to predict whether patients will respond to a given treatment. They hope to discover how mutations in tumor DNA are linked to response to particular drugs, which could enable physicians to make better clinical decisions about which drugs work and which do not.

"We urgently need to improve the outcome of clinical trials and be more ambitious for our patients," Emile Voest, one of the project leaders and head of the department of medical oncology at the University Medical Center Utrecht, said in a statement.

"We strongly feel that analyzing tumor DNA will not only help us to identify cancer patients that are more likely to respond to a specific anti-cancer drug but also avoid exposing patients to a toxic drug that does not provide benefit. This Stand up to Cancer grant will allow us to investigate the value of DNA-guided treatment."

"Through this grant, we will be able to increase our understanding of how the cancer genotype determines how the tumor responds to therapy. As such, we will help expedite the transition to a more individualized treatment for cancer patients," added project co-leader René Bernards, head of the division of molecular carcinogenesis at the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

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