Publication of a Swiss study in the prestigious American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine: "Gene profiling of clinical routine biopsy and prediction of survival in non-small-cell lung cancer"


This month, a major Swiss study about the application of genetic techniques in lung cancer will be published. The work allows to produce genetic profile of lung cancer in each patient individually, from routinely obtained biopsies of lung endoscopies. Larger biopsy is not required to obtain the gene profiles. A real progress in terms of individualized therapy of lung cancer is expected. The study was conducted by Prof. Dr. Martin Brutsche, head of the Pneumology / Sleep Medicine at the Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, and honorary professor at the University of Basel. The collaboration took place between the University Hospital of Basel and the Cantonal Hospital Winterthur. Novartis AG sponsored the study with a research grant, and provided the gene microarray technology (Novachip). A total of 56 patients with suspicion of lung cancer were included in the study. In 41, the diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer was confirmed. For the need of diagnosis, two small bronchoscopic biopsies were taken, and subsequently used for gene expression microarray analysis (34'207 gene sequences measured simultaneously). The patients were then treated according to the best possible current practice. This included, depending on the tumor stage, surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or combinations of these therapies. Improvement of diagnosis and prognosis With the aid of the genetic profile, the patient diagnosis, which is traditionally made by means of microscopy, can be confirmed and even refined. Using a gene expression score based on 13 informative genes, it was possible to predict the survival of patients with lung cancer and thus refine the patient prognosis. The gene expression score was refined using five independent published studies, and validated on an additional external published data set. An important gene, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-Beta, was found to be a key prognostic gene. This was confirmed in 508 additional independent tumor samples as a good prognostic marker. Daily routine facilitated The study shows that the application of gene expression microarray in small bronchoscopic biopsies can be used for molecular tumor classification and prognosis of patients with lung cancer. This method can be applied for patients with any tumor stage and can therefore be integrated in the daily routine. Queries and appointment requests for interviews with the corresponding author, please contact: Angelika Heuberger, Media Relations, Kantonsspital St. Gallen, Tel 071 494 23 81 or e-mail