Researchers find key to chemotherapy resistance in lung cancer patients

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Researchers in Arizona have found a way to predict which patients might be resistant to first-line chemotherapy in the treatment of small-cell lung cancer, calling their findings a breakthrough in the treatment of lung cancer.

Of the 32,000 cases of SCLC patients diagnosed each year in the United States, between 15% and 30% are resistant to the treatment, a condition known as chemoresistance.

The researchers, at TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare looked at tumor microRNAs, molecules that regulate gene expression in the process of making proteins and directing the structure and function of cells, a process that usually prevents cancer, finding three that appeared to predict which patients would be chemoresistant. The researchers hope the findings will go toward developing better clinical drug trials.

“For patients with small-cell lung cancer, there are really only about two chemotherapy options,” researcher Glen Weiss said in a statement. “We need to be more precise with our treatments and identify who is going to be resistant up front in order to design better clinical trials that will identify effective therapies for these at-risk patients.”

The researchers plan to present their findings at a joint conference of the American Association for Cancer Research and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer in San Diego.