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New K.G. Jebsen Centre for Genome-Directed Therapy in Cancer

Professor Per Eystein Lønning and his research team will map tumour genes for better and tailor made chemotherapy.

Cancer cell
TAILOR-MADE CHEMOTHEARPY: A new research centre will study the effects of chemotherapy targeted on particular tumours.
Photo:
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Today, it is normal practice to treat cancer with chemotherapy. Some tumours, however, have genetic mutations that make them resistant against some kinds of chemotherapy. Professor Per Eystein Lønning at the Department of Clinical Science is going to lead a new K. G. Jebsen Centre, that will contribute to doctors being able to offer a more targeted chemotherapy to each patient, based on the genetic variations of their particular cancer tumour.  

“By sequencing a tumours genes we will be able to detect genetic errors that indicate which type of chemotherapy could be most beneficial for each individual patient’s cancer,” says Lønning.

The new centre is receiving 18 million NOK over a 4 year period from the foundation Stiftelsen Kristian Gerhard Jebsen. The University of Oslo will also receive funding the same day for its new K.G. Jebsen Centre for B-cell Cancer.

Aiming with better technology
During the last years, researchers have discovered that some types of chemotherapy work well on some types of genetic mutations. These are mutations in the tumours that usually reduce the effect of particular chemotherapy.

“If we are able to detect which mutations each patient have, then we can pick out the right therapy in advance,” Lønning explains.

The chemotherapy offered today is a result of years of experience, by testing different chemotherapies on different types of cancer. With the fast technological development of genetic analysis, over the last years, researchers are now able to analyse the whole tumour genome, giving them insights into its the total genetic code.

“This means that we can separate the different types of cancer in a much more accurate way than before, which, in turn, means we can choose a more optimal therapy for each patient,” Lønning says.

Researching more types of cancer

Lønning and his colleagues at the Breast Cancer Group at the Mohn Cancer Research Laboratory are already busy doing clinical studies of genetic mutations.

“We want to find out if the more tailored way of treating patients gives better results than giving the same chemotherapy to all patients with the same diagnosis,” says Lønning.

With the K. G. Jebsen funding, Lønning and his research group, will be able to do more far-reaching studies and to study more different types of cancer, than they can today. Thus far, the research group has studied breast cancer and colon cancer. Now, they would like to include lung-, prostate-, bladder-, neck and head cancer.

“We expect to be able to offer better treatment for more patients with certain genetic mutations,” Per Eystein Lønning says.