Researchers have identified two new cancer-causing gene mutations, a discovery that could lead to more targeted and effective treatments for certain lung and prostate cancers. These mutations may be particularly susceptible to cancer-fighting drugs already approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. The findings have been published in Nature Communications.
The discovery suggests that cancers with the newly discovered mutations in the MCM8 and MCM9 genes likely will respond extremely favorably to the same chemotherapy drugs that have already proven effective against breast cancers with the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.
The new research shows that the MCM8 and MCM9 genes produce proteins that play a critical role in homologous recombination, a method cells use to repair double-strand breaks in our DNA. Such breaks are thought to occur commonly - perhaps thousands of times in each cell's life - but the vital repair proteins appear to be missing in cancers with MCM8 and MCM9 mutations. That defect could be the cancer cells' downfall, theoretically making them "superbly sensitive" to cisplatin and other drugs already developed to battle BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.
As of now, there is no commercially available diagnostic test for the MCM8 and MCM9 mutations, though they could be revealed via whole genome sequencing. The researchers believe, however, that a much simpler test can be designed; they also like to see a clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of cisplatin and olaparib in battling cancers with the MCM8 and MCM9 mutations.
Based on material originally posted by University of Virginia Health System.