• Open Access

Prospective randomized phase II study determines the clinical usefulness of genetic biomarkers for sensitivity to primary chemotherapy with paclitaxel in breast cancer


  • Name of the trial register: Validation of genetic diagnosis to predict sensitivity in primary systemic chemotherapy with paclitaxel in women with breast cancer.

  • Registration number: C000000413, UMIN Clinical Trials Registry.

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: yito@jfcr.or.jp


In patients with breast cancer, taxane as well as anthracycline play central roles in systemic chemotherapy. By evaluating the pathological response, we can gauge sensitivity to primary chemotherapy. However, biomarkers that would predict a response to taxane have not yet been established. We conducted a prospective randomized trial to evaluate whether selecting patients using sensitivity testing based on the gene expression of the tumor might enhance the probability of the pathological response. Five genes were identified as biomarkers derived from a microarray of DNA gene profiles from microdisected breast tumors. In the experimental arm (B1), 12 cycles of weekly paclitaxel, 80 mg/m2, were preoperatively given when the sensitivity test was positive and therefore judged to be sensitive to paclitaxel. When the test was negative, meaning insensitive to paclitaxel, four cycles of FEC100 were given (arm B2). In the control arm (A), paclitaxel was administered weekly without the use of the sensitivity test. A total of 92 patients were enrolled and 86 patients were analyzed. The pathological response rate (pRR) of each arm was 36.4% in B1 (expected sensitive to paclitaxel), 21.1% in A (control) and 12.5% in B2, respectively. Weekly paclitaxel-treated patients selected by the sensitivity test did not enhance the pRR. The study failed to validate sensitivity testing using five gene expressions for primary chemotherapy with paclitaxel in patients with breast cancer. However, this study suggests that a randomized phase II study is a robust tool for obtaining a rapid conclusion on the usefulness of biomarkers and could be the foundation for further large clinical trials. (Cancer Sci 2011; 102: 130–136)