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UW researchers blaze a trail toward better breast cancer treatment

MADISON, Wis. - Chemotherapy drugs usually succeed at killing cancer cells, but some cancers have a tendency to develop a resistance to treatment, according to a University of Wisconsin Health release. 

Researchers at UW-Madison have figured out how this resistance is built, which means doctors will soon be able to test patients and determine if a particular treatment will work, officials said.

"If a patient will not be sensitive to a treatment, they should not be placed on that treatment. They should not be over-treated," said Dr. Wei Xu, professor of oncology at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center and McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and senior author of the study. "Also, we want to give timely treatments, because if you match the patient to the right treatment, you're more likely to save someone's life."

Modification of a few key proteins before or during treatment can be an indicator of chemotherapy resistance, which will help doctors determine the effectiveness of certain treatments, according to the release.

The discovery will help doctors optimize patient-specific treatments based on each person's needs, officials said. 

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