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Today, there are several different drugs that can be used to treat breast cancer. The problem is that it is difficult to know in advance which medicine is best for a particular patient. A new method will hopefully make it much easier to know which medications work best for each individual patient in the future.
"Today there are limited opportunities to say in advance which breast cancer patients will benefit from various treatments. This method can predict how patients will respond to certain treatments, thus avoiding unnecessary side effects and saving costs. Larger confirmatory studies are needed, but we see that the concept works," says Johan Hartman, professor at Karolinska Institutet and the last author of the study, in a press release.
The method involves isolating and cultivating not only tumor cells but also so-called supporting cells from patients with breast cancer. In the study, it was found that the method had an accuracy of up to 90 percent when it came to predicting which medicine would work best for the patients.
An additional advantage of the method is that it is fast.
"In most cases, we can carry out individual drug testing and get the results within ten days, which indicates that this method can work in everyday clinical life. But it can also be used in research and drug development," says Xinsong Chen, research specialist at Karolinska Institutet and the study's first author.
So far, it is an initial study and the researchers will now go ahead and test the method on larger patient groups.