ATP chemosensitivity testing in ovarian and breast cancer: early clinical trials

Recent Results Cancer Res. 2003;161:221-30. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-19022-3_17.


After disappointing results achieved with older chemosensitivity tests such as the human tumor clonogenic assay (HTCA) during the 1980s, the last decade has seen a renaissance of the concept of individualized chemotherapy in oncology, markedly stimulated by the development of newer nonclonogenic assays. These methods appear to be able to overcome major technical limitations associated with older assays, now allowing for successful testing of most of the tumor specimens submitted. Currently, the ATP-based tumor chemosensitivity assay (ATP-TCA) can be regarded as the most sophisticated assay to investigate both solid samples and effusions derived from patients with various organ tumors. During the last 5 years, the ATP-TCA has been used successfully to screen for novel drug combinations for further clinical use in both ovarian and breast cancer such as mitoxantrone plus paclitaxel (NT) and treosulfan plus gemcitabine (TG), respectively. Clinical trials that have been set up in heavily pretreated patients with recurrent ovarian or breast cancer have convincingly confirmed the high activity of these combinations previously demonstrated in preclinical investigations using the ATP-TCA. In a recent phase II trial performed in 59 patients with relapsed ovarian carcinoma, ATP-TCA-directed therapy was able to triple the response rate and to double the survival time, compared with published empirical chemotherapy regimes. Preliminary results with ATP-TCA-directed therapy in breast cancer also evidenced promising response rates. These results have been confirmed by additional prospective clinical trials using other types of modern nonclonogenic assays. A phase III trial that is now actively recruiting patients with platinum-refractory ovarian cancer to verify the promising phase II studies will prove the further value of the ATP-TCA as a predictor applicable in routine clinical oncology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Adenosine Triphosphate