varionostic, a bioanalytics company based in Ulm, has developed a test system for detecting K-RAS mutations in co-operation with the Institute of Pathology at the University of Ulm. The test could be an additional tool for targeted therapies of patients with colorectal cancer who stand to benefit from newly developed cancer therapies that rely on the genotype of the K-RAS oncogene.
Mutated K-RAS genes are involved in the generation of many tumours, including colorectal cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. In spring 2008, Thomas Seufferlein, an oncologist from Ulm, presented the results of three studies which showed that colorectal cancer patients with unmutated K-RAS genes (wild-type) can most likely benefit from monoclonal antibodies. Patients who have a mutation in the K-RAS gene will not respond to this type of treatment. According to Seufferlein, the mutated K-RAS gene can be detected in about 30 to 40 per cent of all colorectal cancer patients.According to the Society of Epidemiological Cancer Registries and the Robert Koch Institute, around 37,000 men and 36,000 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year in Germany. This type of cancer is therefore the second most frequent type of cancer in Germany and also the second most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths. However, the mortality rate of people suffering from colorectal cancer is constantly decreasing.