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Results in from clinical trial on microRNAs I took part in as consumer representative


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Tony Maxwell (not a doctor) said ...

A clinical trial I was involved in as a consumer representative has just published its results. The results have to be tested in a larger trial before they become standard practice, but it looks like the researchers may be on to a good thing.


Basically, it looks like tiny particles found in blood may predict who will likely fail chemotherapy with Taxotere (docetaxel). 


Around half of men fail to respond to docetaxel, but now it takes a few months on the strong drug to find out. If this new test pans out in the bigger trial, these non-responding men can avoid the drug and be saved a lot of grief.


The tiny particles are called microRNAs (pronounced micro-R-N-A's). As I understand it, microRNAs start as part of your DNA. In your blood they affect how your genes make proteins to do the jobs your body needs doing.


... end Tony


Br J Cancer. 2014 May 13;110(10):2462-71. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.181. Epub 2014 Apr 8.

Circulating microRNAs are associated with docetaxel chemotherapy outcome in castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Lin HM1, Castillo L1, Mahon KL2, Chiam K1, Lee BY1, Nguyen Q3, Boyer MJ4, Stockler MR5, Pavlakis N6, Marx G7, Mallesara G8, Gurney H9, Clark SJ10, Swarbrick A10, Daly RJ11, Horvath LG12.

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Docetaxel is the first-line chemotherapy for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). However, response rates are ∼50% and determined quite late in the treatment schedule, thus non-responders are subjected to unnecessary toxicity. The potential of circulating microRNAs as early biomarkers of docetaxel response in CRPC patients was investigated in this study.



Global microRNA profiling was performed on docetaxel-resistant and sensitive cell lines to identify candidate circulating microRNA biomarkers. Custom Taqman Array MicroRNA cards were used to measure the levels of 46 candidate microRNAs in plasma/serum samples, collected before and after docetaxel treatment, from 97 CRPC patients.



Fourteen microRNAs were associated with serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) response or overall survival, according to Mann-Whitney U or log-rank tests. Non-responders to docetaxel and patients with shorter survival generally had high pre-docetaxel levels of miR-200 family members or decreased/unchanged post-docetaxel levels of miR-17 family members. Multivariate Cox regression with bootstrapping validation showed that pre-docetaxel miR-200b levels, post-docetaxel change in miR-20a levels, pre-docetaxel haemoglobin levels and visceral metastasis were independent predictors of overall survival when modelled together.



Our study suggests that circulating microRNAs are potential early predictors of docetaxel chemotherapy outcome, and warrant further investigation in clinical trials.

PMID: 24714754


This extract can be found on http://PubMed.com, and is in the public domain.

On PubMed.com there will be a link to the full paper (often about $30, sometimes free).


Any highlighting (except the title) is not by the author, but by Tony Maxwell.

Tony is not a doctor.

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