HealthDay News — According to a study published on August 31, 2016 in Nature Communications, scientists have discovered 14 genes that may help doctors determine whether or not a cancer treatment could help a patient.

The researchers first determined 14 genes that consistently over-express in a large number of cancers. The study team then created a scoring system (Centromere and kinetochore gene Expression Score [CES]) based on the degree of over-expression. A higher score meant more over-expression in those genes.

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For several types of major cancers, the higher the score, the worse the prognosis for patients. But “another finding — one that is counter intuitive — is that high expression of these genes is also related to more effective chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” said principal investigator Gary Karpen, PhD, a senior scientist at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The scores could then lead to predicting patient response to specific cancer treatments, according to the study team.

“Our results demonstrate the prognostic and predictive power of the CES, suggest a role for centromere misregulation in cancer progression, and support the idea that tumors with extremely high chromosomal instability are less tolerant to specific genotoxic therapies,” the authors conclude.


Zhang W, Mao JH, Zhu W, et al. Centromere and kinetochore gene misexpression predicts cancer patient survival and response to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Nat Commun. 2016;7:12619.

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