Cited research: Nature Med. doi:10.1038/nm.2174 (2010)
A tumour's genetic make-up holds important clues to its stage of development, and researchers are now closer to a tool that can 'read' this information.
Soft-tissue cancers called sarcomas are normally staged, or graded, largely according to the tumour cells' appearance under the microscope. This method is more than 20 years old and is not very reproducible from one pathologist to the next. Frédéric Chibon at the Bergonié Institute in Bordeaux, France, and his co-workers have teased out a signature pattern of gene expression, involving 67 genes, that better predicts the five-year metastasis-free survival rate for people with sarcomas.
The researchers analysed gene-expression patterns for 183 sarcoma samples and tested their prognostic signature in a separate set of 127 sarcomas. Almost all of the 67 genes are involved in cell division or maintaining chromosome integrity. Further validation is needed before this can be used in the clinic, the authors say. C.L.