PLOS Medicine just conducted a study that shows women who have extensively distinct clonal genetic subtypes in their tumors will typically have a worse survival rate for ovarian cancer. This was based on a number of tests that researchers performed such as whole-genome sequencing, tagged-amplicon sequencing, and copy number profiling in an array-based focus. These tests were performed on 14 tumor samples from 14 women.
By looking at intra-tumor heterogeneity in different areas of the tumor as well as phylogenetic patterns they were able to find some interesting data. Above average clonal heterogeneity was a typical match with shorter survival rates and short progression-free survival rates as well.
This research is a big step forward because there are still many things that we do not know about the inner workings of tumors. It still appears very spastic and random so by finding some patterns this can affect future treatment. The co-senior author of the study, James Brenton, said that this will bring a lot more insight into the process of developing more effective drugs for ovarian cancer. With this knowledge doctors can better understand how patients will respond to certain treatments and make more accurate decisions.
Intra-tumor heterogeneity has been looked at in the past in solid tumors but hasn’t been studied in relation to patient outcomes before. This past research helped researchers better understand treatment-resistant clones in blood cancers, but this next step was very important. Going further, it’s going to be important to start applying this to form more educated decisions with medicine as well as taking the research further. There’s a ways to go, but every little step is huge.