The Bern Center for Precision Medicine advances personalized therapies for cancer patients

Researchers at the Bern Center for Precision Medicine have discovered which genes play an important role in patients’ various responses to radiation therapy. This results in new findings for cancer treatment.

Radiotherapy for cancer treatment
One of the great mysteries of cancer research is why certain patients respond better to radiation therapy than others. | Copyright UKRO - Insel Gruppe

About half of all people suffering from cancer are treated with a so-called radiotherapy. Although this therapy contributes to healing many people, others hardly benefit from it at all. Using genetic testing methods, a team led by Prof. Sven Rottenberg from the University of Bern and in close cooperation with the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam has now identified genes that play an important role in this process.

"For many cancer patients, their relatives and treating physicians, it is incredibly frustrating when there is no success after a painstaking radiotherapy that takes weeks," said Rottenberg. "We hope that our findings contribute to better predicting the chance of therapy success." The findings can also be used to develop new drugs that could improve the efficacy of radiotherapy. “Our findings show the importance of personalized cancer therapy that takes the genetic predisposition of the people affected into account."

Internationally networked research supported by the EU

The University of Bern founded the Center for Precision Medicine in 2019 with the aim of strengthening research into such personalized therapies. It should contribute to the development of tailor-made therapies for cancer patients. To research radiotherapy, Prof. Rottenberg's group is not only collaborating with the Netherlands Cancer Institute but also with research groups at the University of Zurich, Oxford University and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

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