How can this knowledge be used to help people with ovarian cancer?
Now that we have found some genetic predictors for chemo-resistant ovarian cancer, doctors can hopefully optimize therapies for each individual patient. If we can figure out in advance resistance patterns for certain treatments, we don’t have to waste precious energy and time putting patients through trial and error.
For example, this study shows us that for cancer patients with one normal BRCA allele, we now know not to try any DNA-damaging chemotherapies because it probably won’t work.
Being able to predict how someone responds to treatment gives us a wonderful gift. Many of these patients have no time to lose, so we can simply run a relatively cheap and easy test to look at their BRCA status. These tests will tell us quickly whether or not someone has one or two copies of mutated BRCA, and that can better help doctors when they are advising patients about their treatment options.
There are already many other drugs that work outside of damaging DNA that is available to treat ovarian cancer. We not only save time but we also save money if can pinpoint which therapies would work best for a patient beforehand.
These findings are really promising as modern medicine starts to head towards more personalized therapies.