The BBC website reports that scientists have developed a gene test which predicts how well chemotherapy will work in cancer patients.

Starting with 829 genes in breast cancer cells, the team whittled down the possibilities to six genes which had an impact on whether a drug worked. They then showed that these genes could be used to predict the effectiveness of a drug called paclitaxel in patients. It is hoped the approach, reported in The Lancet Oncology, can be replicated for other cancers and treatments.

More than 45,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year – and it is estimated that around 15% of these women will be prescribed paclitaxel. The researchers estimate they could potentially spare half of the patients currently receiving this drug from treatment which would not be effective.