Duke scientist's cancer research is questioned

Jul 23, 2010 Full story: The Modesto Bee

Concerns are being raised about the validity of research done by a Duke University cancer scientist who recently was placed on leave while the school investigates whether he falsely claimed to be a Rhodes scholar.

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Since: Dec 05

Reading, PA

#1 Aug 1, 2010
Gene-Expression Signatures in Lung Cancer: Not Ready Yet

It is the hope is that any patient with cancer would have their tumor biopsied and profiled. The profile would then be displayed as a unique genetic signature, which would in turn predict which therapy is most likely to work. However.....

Gene-Expression Signatures in Lung Cancer: Not Ready Yet

Roxanne Nelson - Medscape Medical News

March 17, 2010 The identification of prognostic markers could assist in the clinical management of nonsmall-cell lung cancers (NSCLC). Although molecular profiling of tumors has led to the identification of gene-expression patterns, a new review has found "little evidence" that any of the signatures are ready for use in the clinical setting.

In addition, the researchers reported that they found "serious problems in the design and analysis of many of the studies" that were included in their review, published online March 16 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Even in its earliest stages, lung cancer has a very high recurrence rate and mortality, the authors note. Current clinical staging techniques have limitations in terms of predicting recurrence and guiding treatment, but the ability to identify new molecular targets using techniques such as microarray-based gene-expression profiling has the potential to improve patient care.

Inconclusive Results Thus Far

Studies have reported mixed results. As previously reported by Medscape Oncology, one recent review article found that gene-expression profiling failed to outperform standard histologic examinations. However, another study reported that a "5-gene signature" was closely associated with relapse-free and overall survival among patients with NSCLC.

More recently, at the 2010 Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer, researchers reported that a mutated epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR) gene signature was a validated therapeutic target in NSCLC, and suggested that this gene signature might provide "predictive value and biological insights" into EGFR inhibitor responses in lung adenocarcinomas.

For the current review, Jyothi Subramanian, PhD, and Richard Simon, DSc, from the Biometric Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, conducted a literature search of studies published from 2002 to 2009 to critically evaluate studies that reported prognostic gene-expression signatures in NSCLC.

Little Evidence of Gene Signatures

The authors selected 16 studies as being most relevant, and closely assessed them for a number of criteria, including the appropriateness of the study design, the statistical validation of the prognostic signature on independent datasets, the presentation of results in an unbiased manner, and the demonstration of medical utility for the new signature beyond that obtained using existing treatment guidelines.

They noted that one of the "striking findings" is that none of the studies succeeded in showing that gene-expression signatures had better predictive power "over and above known risk factors." In fact, they note, the majority of the risk factors outlined by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guideline were not even considered by most of the studies they reviewed.

Since: Dec 05

Reading, PA

#2 Aug 1, 2010
For example, the extent of residual tumor after resection is the most important variable, after stage, when making decisions about adjuvant chemotherapy, according to the NCCN guideline. But only 7 of the studies stated that completeness of resection was a criterion for patient selection.

Drs. Subramanian and Simon point out that "the most important medical question that needs to be answered by a new prognostic signature in NSCLC is whether it can identify the subset of stage IA patients who might benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy." But only 2 studies in their survey included validation results for this subpopulation.

The majority of papers presented overall validation results for stage I patients, and some of the signatures were successful in identifying high-risk stage I patients. However, whether or not the signature was better at predicting overall survival than tumor size or other standard risk factors was not adequately addressed and was unclear from most of these studies, the authors report. Only 1 study, they note, reported a marginal improvement in the predictive accuracy for their gene-expression signature, compared with tumor size, for stage I patients

Another important medical need is the ability to identify the subset of stage IB and stage II patients who are at a low risk for disease recurrence without chemotherapy, the authors explain. But only one of the studies presented separated validation results for this subgroup of patients; a second study was the only one that reported the statistical significance of the prognostic signature for validation in stage II samples. The lack of predictiveness for stage II patients could be the result of the small number of such patients in the study samples, they note.

Most of the studies presented validation results on data that were not used for developing the predictive signatures.

"Most of the studies presented validation results on data that were not used for developing the predictive signatures," they write; in addition, "none of the 16 studies reviewed adequately addressed the question of the predictive power that could be attained by using easily measurable clinicopathological factors for stage I samples."

On the basis of their observations and analyses, the authors suggest a set of guidelines to aid the design, analysis, and evaluation of prognostic gene-expression studies, with a focus on NSCLC.

"Clinical validity of a prognostic signature implies demonstrating that the test result correlates with clinical outcome," they write, whereas "medical utility of a prognostic signature means that the test result is actionable, leading to patient benefit."

Therefore, the ultimate test of clinical validity for a prognostic signature is how well it performs in a prospective clinical trial. Several such trials are currently underway, including the CALGB 30506 trial that was recently initiated to clinically test the lung metagene prognostic signature in lung cancer, the authors point out.

"Regardless of clinical validation, unless a new prognostic signature provides additional risk stratification within the stage and risk-factor groupings on which current treatment guidelines are based, its broad acceptance in medical practice is unlikely," the authors conclude.

J Natl Cancer Inst. Published online March 16, 2010

Since: Feb 10

Saint Petersburg, FL

#3 Aug 2, 2010
gdp, you're plagiarizing again. It isn't enough to include a full footnote (not even a tremendously incomplete one as you just did). You can't just cut snd paste large chunks of someone else's work, provide an incomplete footnote and post it elsewhere - not with integrity.
The thing to do in such a case is to say "Go to this website" -- I found section such and such or paragraph # such and so (or starting with the words "...") particularly interesting."
What you're doing is plagiarism.
You've been extolling the virtues of just such research is being scrutinized for a couple of years (at least), and now I have to wonder if it was some of this guy's research.
You're attempting to influence other people'e treatments for a life-threatening disease. You owe it to them to cite honestly.

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