Dr. Schneider’s breast cancer research impacts clinical care

By Michael Schug

Breast cancer research conducted by Bryan Schneider, M.D., was named one of the top clinical cancer research advances of 2011 by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Dr. Schneider, the Vera Bradley Investigator and associate professor of medicine and of medical and molecular genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and colleagues identified a genetic biomarker that causes neuropathy for many breast cancer patients using a class of chemotherapy drugs called taxanes. 

The research was featured in “2011 Clinical Cancer Advances: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer.” The report is an annual, independent review of advances in cancer research that have had the greatest impact on patient care.

Dr. Schneider’s study is one of the first genetic biomarkers to have been reported for neuropathy caused by taxanes, which include paclitaxel or Taxol.

The finding may eventually lead to a blood test to determine if a patient is at risk of developing neuropathy. Dr. Schneider and colleagues found the gene by conducting a comprehensive genetic look at more than one million genetic variations in each of the 2,204 breast cancer patients studied. The patients were enrolled in the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group clinical trial E5103.

The IU investigators looked for variations in DNA called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs. They identified genetic subgroups that were likely to develop neuropathy. Those who carried two normal nucleotides in the RWDD3 gene had a 27 percent chance of experiencing neuropathy. But those who carried one normal nucleotide and one SNP had a 40 percent chance and those who carried two SNPs had a 60 percent chance.

The study also found that older patients and African Americans were much more likely to have neuropathy.

Dr. Schneider and colleagues will advance their research with additional trials to validate these findings and to determine whether a different type of taxane therapy would result in less neuropathy in the more susceptible genetic group.

About Bryan Schneider, M.D.

At just 40 years of age, Dr. Schneider already has made a significant impact in the world of breast cancer research.

Dr. Bryan SchneiderWhile a boy, Dr. Schneider lost his grandmother to cancer. Her cancer diagnosis and subsequent death left an impression on him that steered him toward a career in medicine.

Not only does he seek to understand the genes that cause cancer, he is equally inquisitive about understanding how the genetic variation that makes each of us different might also impact how we respond to a drug. He seeks to understand how our genetic blueprint affects the efficacy of a drug and the side effects to individuals caused by that drug.

A native of Jasper, Ind., Dr. Schneider graduated summa cum laude from the University of Evansville. He then graduated from the IU School of Medicine, completing a residency in internal medicine and an extended fellowship in oncology that allowed him to concentrate his time in the research laboratory.