Aggressive bladder cancer can be very serious. But researchers have found a way to personalize the treatment of this potentially deadly disease, according to a study published online in the journal PLoS One. Scientists at the Jackson Laboratory in conjunction with those at the University of California, Davis conducted the study. In the first leg, researchers removed bladder cancer tumors from patients. Then they located mutations that they could respond to.
These cancer cells were then grafted into laboratory mice. At this stage, multiple therapies were attempted and assessed. Those treatments that were most successful were then administered to patients. Chong-Xian Pan, a genitourinary oncologist, was the lead author in this study. Pan said that through the process of pre-screening he and his team could tell which treatment option would work best.
A therapy based on this study could “…reduce toxicity, increase efficiency and lower costs.” Pan said. Since certain drugs go after genetic abnormalities, discovering a tumor’s particular mutation should help locate how best to destroy it. But here is where it gets complicated.
There is often more than one anomaly. Teasing out which one is driving the cancer can be difficult. In adult cancers dozens or even hundreds of genetic anomalies may be present. Lung cancer is one such case with hundreds of aberrations. Here only a few or even one is clinically significant. Previously it was difficult for researchers to separate what was an important mutation from what was irrelevant.
Through genomic testing can locate abnormalities it cannot say which ones are driving the cancer. But through Pan’s study, by grafting the cancer into mice, researchers were able to see which specific mutations were relevant. When grown in a Petri dish, cancer cells can change from those in the original tumor in just a few days. But with this method cancer cells remained 92-97% the same as those in the host.
This was a small study. More research will be needed. But soon better treatment for bladder cancer should be available to patients. Those who have difficulty urinating, frequent urination, blood in the urine, or other such issues should see a doctor or urologist right away. Bladder cancer if left uncaught can be life-threatening.