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‘NGS for biliary tract cancer may lead to personalized treatment’
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.12.12 15:02
  • Updated 2019.12.12 15:02
  • comments 0

A team at Asan Medical Center (AMC) has found that next-generation sequencing (NGS) can help visualize precision medicine in treating biliary tract cancer.

Professors Kim Kyu-pyo (left) and Yoo Chang-hoon

Biliary tract cancer, an illness where the cancer cells develop in the bile ducts, is difficult to detect early and has only one standard anticancer treatment currently available. Also, the cancer has a high recurrence rate and poor prognosis even after surgery, raising the demand for a new medication.

Average survival rates for patients with biliary tract cancer are less than a year for both advanced cancer that cannot be operated, or recurred cancer after surgery. The five-year survival rate after diagnosis or surgery for local biliary tract cancer patients is also low, standing at less than 20 percent.

The biliary tract is vital because there are many important blood vessels around the abdominal cavity or liver. As it is located deep inside the body, there are many restrictions on management and examination.

To discover a better treatment option for patients, the team, led by Professors Kim Kyu-pyo and Yoo Chang-hoon, identified mutational genes in patients with biliary tract cancer by using next-generation sequencing (NGS).

The team found that more than half of the patients were eligible to try new treatment candidates for biliary tract cancer. In detail, the researchers conducted an exome sequencing to analyze mutant genes in 124 biliary tract cancer -- 25 patients with gallbladder cancer, 55 with hepatic bile duct cancer, and 44 with extrahepatic bile duct cancer.

As a result, genetic variation was observed in 104 patients (83.8%), while the team found 58 patients (54.8 percent) that are eligible to try the new targeted-drug.

“As the individual genetic analysis of biliary tract cancer patients has become more precise, the number of patients with biliary tract cancer who can try new drug treatments is expected to increase,” Professor Yoo said. “Although the new targeted drug is currently under development, more than half of patients with biliary tract cancer can try out for the trial.”

At the national level, more interest and support are needed for research on the development of new drugs to improve the survival rate of patients with biliary tract cancer, Yoo added.

European Journal of Cancer published the result of the study.


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