Mayo Researchers Find Biomarkers for Personalizing Radiation Cancer Treatment

The findings appear today online in the journal Genome Research.

“Overcoming resistance to radiation therapy would make treatment more effective for some individuals,” says Liewei Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic genomic researcher and senior author of the study. “Our findings may make it possible to one day develop novel therapies aimed at selected subgroups of cancer patients.”

Roughly half of all cancer patients undergo radiation therapy, but the response — the impact on the patient and the cancer — can vary greatly. It’s thought that genetic variants — differences in personal genomes — may be the reason in most cases. Dr. Wang and her team investigated 277 different human lymphoblastoid cell lines in an attempt to learn more about why some patients respond differently.

As part of their genome-wide association study, they integrated data on gene expression, cell toxicity outcomes, and 1.3 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the brief sections of genetic code representing variants. They then narrowed the field and validated likely biomarkers in three cell lines to confirm radiation response. In the end, they identified five genes in which gene expression related directly to radiation response.

Others on the study include Nifang Niu, M.D., Ph.D.; Yuxin Qin, Ph.D.; Brooke Fridley, Ph.D.; Junmei Hou, Ph.D.; Krishna Kalari, Ph.D.; Minjia Zhu, Ph.D.; Tse-Yu Wu; Gregory Jenkins; and Anthony Batzler, all of Mayo Clinic. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, an ASPET-Astellas award and an award from the PhRMA Foundation.


About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy of “the needs of the patient come first.” More than 3,700 physicians, scientists and researchers, and 50,100 allied health staff work at Mayo Clinic, which has campuses in Rochester, Minn; Jacksonville, Fla; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz.; and community-based providers in more than 70 locations in southern Minnesota., western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. These locations treat more than half a million people each year. To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to For information about research and education, visit ( is available as a resource for your health stories.