Lung cancer patients could benefit from a new drug which predicts which chemotherapy drugs will work.
A team from the University of Cincinnati has identified a molecular pathway called the retinoblastoma (RB) tumour suppressor that controls cell multiplication.
Research has shown that the RB pathway is either completely dormant or altered in most human cancers. Scientists are beginning to use its actions to judge how tumours will respond to different treatments.
When RB was turned off, the cancer cells continued to divide, but became more susceptible to the drugs.
Lead researcher Michael Reed commented: "The traditional way of thinking of cancer - one cancer gene to treat and you're done - is obviously not the best approach to treating this disease.
"These are complex, overlapping molecular pathways. Dissecting them and determining how to use that information to apply combinations of chemotherapeutic agents will allow for individualization of therapy."
The findings appear in the September 2007 issue of the journal Cancer Research.