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Personalizing Treatment of Drug-Resistant Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

A new method for identifying personalized drug combinations for treatment-resistant non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs) is reported in Science Translational Medicine this week. Patients with NHLs — the most common hematologic malignancy globally — frequently relapse after frontline treatment. While combination therapies are used to overcome this resistance, they are selected based on population-level responses and fail to account for inter-patient heterogeneity, which limits their efficacy. Instead, a team led by scientist from the National University of Singapore developed an experimental analytic method, called quadratic phenotypic optimization platform (QPOP), that predicts patient-specific drug combination efficacy from a limited quantity of biopsied tumor samples. In a prospective study, they used QPOP to evaluate fresh biopsies from patients with relapsed/refractory NHL. Based on this, physicians were able to alter treatments based on the drug combinations identified, achieving complete responses in five of 17 patients. The study, the researchers write, marks a step forward toward making personalized therapies for NHL a clinical reality.