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Pioneer Personalizes Breast Cancer Treatment

By Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe | August 21, 2009

Laura van 't Veer, PhD, has changed the way physicians look at breast cancer. Tumors differ from each other genetically. And thanks to van 't Veer's pioneering vision, oncologists now use a new generation of genetic tests to help make treatment decisions.

Fewer women with low-risk breast cancer are being treated unnecessarily with drugs that may have side effects. More women with high-risk disease are receiving appropriate, aggressive therapy.

Van 't Veer led the bench-to-bedside development of the MammaPrint, a lab test on a chip. It detects patterns of gene activity in samples prepared from breast tumors. The various patterns of gene activity detected by the MammaPrint indicate a better or worse likelihood of breast cancer's returning despite surgery.

Research shows that for early-stage breast cancer, the MammaPrint is a more accurate gauge of breast cancer prognosis than previously established measures.

Read more at Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe