Lives extended by genetic algorithm

A retrospective study used data from an ovarian cancer registry to genetically profile over 3000 ovarian tumour samples from patients already on one of three common ovarian cancer drugs – paclitaxel, cyclophosphamide and topotecan – to discover differences between tumours that responded to treatment and tumours that didn’t. 

The Canadian researchers said site-specific cancers have traditionally been considered to be homogenous, but increasingly, evidence is pointing to significant heterogeneity within the disease. 

They also noted that “because it has been so difficult to predict which ovarian cancers will respond to each of the three available drugs, doctors have largely been forced to guess which will work best”, which can lead to treatment failure.

The model, called COXEN (CO-eXpresssion gENe analysis), allowed the researchers to identify the heterogeneity and genetic signatures of tumours that responded to