Some cancer patients receive irinotecan. This medicine can sometimes cause serious side effects. The Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven has come up with a solution: a DNA test.
This test enables to map the metabolism of a person. It then shows whether the body can break down irinotecan properly or not. If a patient has a mutation in the so-called UGT1A1 gene, he or she cannot break down the drug properly. This has serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences.
According to Catharina Hospital, about one in 10 patients who have colon or pancreatic cancer has a mutation in the genes. “These patients are just as well served with a lower dose of irinotecan,” says hospital pharmacist and principal investigator Maarten Deenen of Catharina Hospital. “So doing a DNA test beforehand can save a lot of pain and costs.”
To easily map out what kind of metabolism the patient has, the Eindhoven hospital wants to create a DNA passport. By taking a tube of blood or saliva, the hospital can see how patients will react to different medications. “Based on that profile, I can prescribe the right dosage,” says oncologist Geert-Jan Creemers of the Catharina Cancer Institute.
The study is also being conducted at Erasmus MC, Haga Hospital, and Leiden University Medical Center. Van Deelen expects that the DNA test will also soon be used internationally as a standard procedure.
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta. She also gives online INBURGERING Classes.