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Bladder cancer protein offers hope for targeted therapy

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Targeted therapy for patients with bladder cancer may be just around the corner after experts made a research breakthrough.

A protein found in bladder tumours can indicate whether some patients would benefit more from surgery or a course of radiation to treat their cancer.

Approximately 40% of patients with a low quantity of the DNA repair protein MRE11 survived for three years or more after radiotherapy, but this figure increased to 70% among those with high levels of the protein.

Patients may now be tested for MRE11 as a result of the discovery and those found to have high levels of the protein could be advised to choose radiotherapy.

Under the current system, patients make the decision between surgery or radiotherapy on the advice of doctors, because survival rates for both methods are similar.

The work, by experts at the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds and the University of Oxford, was funded by Cancer Research UK and relates to the 20% to 30% of cases where tumours invade the muscle wall of the bladder.

Scientists examined the bladder tumour tissue of 86 patients before radiotherapy.

Study author Dr Anne Kiltie said: “If our findings are confirmed in larger studies, then a clinical trial should be done to see if MRE11 could be used to select patients for radiotherapy or surgery.

“This could lead to a test being developed to identify if a patient will respond well to radiotherapy and enable doctors in the future to personalise their treatment plan.”


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