Cancer: Gene signature predicts drug responses and patient outcomes

A gene activity score can predict drug sensitivity and patient outcomes.

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A transcriptional MAPK Pathway Activity Score (MPAS) is a clinically relevant biomarker in multiple cancer types

A clinical score based on the activity of genes that regulate cell signaling can predict drug sensitivity and patient outcomes across a range of cancer types. Marie-Claire Wagle, Daniel Kirouac and their colleagues at Genentech in South San Francisco, California, USA developed an index that aggregates expression levels of 10 genes involved in modulating the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. This “MAPK Pathway Activity Score”, or MPAS, performed as well or better than other more complicated, genome-based tools at predicting whether drugs that inhibit MAPK-related enzymes were active against tumor cell lines. Retrospective analyses of clinical datasets also showed that MPAS correlated with survival outcomes in patients with melanoma, colon cancer, and breast cancer. The authors suggest that MPAS should be evaluated more broadly and perhaps implemented as a clinically informative biomarker. 

Published March 2018 in npj Precision Oncology

Marie-Elizabeth Barabas

Consulting Editor, Springer Nature

I'm an interdisciplinary neuroscientist with a research background in peripheral sensory/pain research, retinoblastoma, retinal development, and stem cell research. As a Consulting Editor for Communications Biology, I primarily handle their neuroscience-relevant content. I also attend conferences and meetings to develop a relationship with our readers, authors, and editors. If you see me at a conference, feel free to introduce yourself.