Findings should help personalize use of the drug, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell scientists say
Researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have discovered why statins -- popular drugs that lower cholesterol and appear to protect against colorectal cancer development -- work for some people, but not for all.
In the May issue of Cancer Prevention Research, the researchers say that, based on their study, about 44 percent of Caucasians taking statins likely are not protected against cancer as well as others because they have inherited a particular gene variant. They say this finding might help personalize the use of statins, both by offering patients a test to determine if they have the "right" gene to benefit from current statin drugs, and by providing insight into how to create a new class of statins for those who have the "wrong" gene profile.
"Given that approximately 25 million individuals worldwide currently use statins, we anticipate this discovery may prompt development of more precise, personalized and cost-effective cancer risk reduction strategies," says the study's co-lead author, Dr. Steven M. Lipkin, associate professor of medicine and of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and a geneticist and internist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
The other lead author is Dr. Stephen B. Gruber, professor of internal medicine, epidemiology and human genetics at the University of Michigan Medical School. The research team also includes scientists from the University of Barcelona, the National Cancer Institute and the Israel Institute of Technology.
The researchers tested their hypothesis that people who don't respond well to the cholesterol-lowering ability of statins also do not benefit from recently documented protective effects of statins against colorectal cancer, and that the difference was in genetic variation that led to a different response to the drug.
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