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Environ Mol Mutagen. 2010 Oct-Dec;51(8-9):897-908. doi: 10.1002/em.20606.

DNA repair and personalized breast cancer therapy.

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Department of Biostatistics, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8040, USA.


Personalized cancer therapy is likely to be one of the next big advances in our search for a cure for cancer. To be able to treat people in an individualized manner, researchers need to know a great deal about their genetic constitution and the DNA repair status of their tumors. Specific knowledge is required regarding the polymorphisms individuals carry and how these polymorphisms influence responses to therapy. Researchers are actively engaged in biomarker discovery and validation for this purpose. In addition, the design of clinical trials must be reassessed to include new information on biomarkers and drug responses. In this review, we focus on personalized breast cancer therapy. The hypothesis we focus upon in this review is that there is connection between the DNA repair profile of individuals, their breast tumor subtypes, and their responses to cancer therapy. We first briefly review cellular DNA repair pathways that are likely to be impacted by breast cancer therapies. Next, we review the phenotypes of breast tumor subtypes with an emphasis on how a DNA repair deficiency might result in tumorigenesis itself and lead to the chemotherapeutic responses that are observed. Specific examples of breast tumor subtypes and their responses to cancer therapy are given, and we discuss possible DNA repair mechanisms that underlie the responses of tumors to various chemotherapeutic agents. Much is known about breast cancer subtypes and the way each of these subtypes responds to chemotherapy. In addition, we discuss novel design of clinical trials that incorporates rapidly emerging information on biomarkers.

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