October 19, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. -- Researchers at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and Duke University have developed a panel of genetic fingerprints they hope will enable physicians to improve cancer treatment by tailoring chemotherapy to individual patients based on the biology of their tumor. Johnathan Lancaster, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of the Gynecologic Surgical Oncology Division at Moffitt, led the work on ovarian cancer in this collaboration with researchers at Duke University that appears in the November issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

The technique takes advantage of cutting-edge genomic technology to identify genetic signatures in cancers that help to predict which patients will, and will not, respond to individual drugs. The genetic fingerprints also identify new treatment opportunities for patients with cancers that are resistant to traditional chemotherapy.

“One of the reasons ovarian cancer is such a deadly disease is that we are unable to predict which drug will work for which patient,” says Dr. Lancaster. “Our current findings suggest that we can harness the power of genomic technology to identify genetic signatures that not only match the right patient with the right drug, but also identify new therapies for patients with this disease. We believe our work represents a significant advance toward the development of personalized medicine for patients with ovarian and other cancers.”

The researchers applied the genomic tests to cancers removed from patients at the time of surgery. They found that the genetic signatures were more than 82 percent accurate in predicting which drugs would be effective in killing cancer cells and shrinking the tumor. More than 400,000 patients in the United States are treated with chemotherapy each year, but it’s rarely


possible to pinpoint which patients will or will not respond to individual drugs. Until now,

doctors have used a trial-and-error approach. As a result, patients can experience potentially life-threatening chemotherapy side-effects without any therapeutic benefit.

Clinical trials to test the genetic signatures in patients will soon be open at Moffitt and Duke. If proven effective, genomic-directed therapy will represent a significant advance in the treatment of ovarian and other cancers.

Located in Tampa, Florida on the University of South Florida campus, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute ( is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 16 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Hospitals for cancer. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.