Precision medicine involves understanding the genetic makeup of every patient’s disease and tumor before giving a diagnosis and beginning treatment while personalized medicine means recognizing that the same ailment can behave differently in different patients. A study conducted recently by researchers from the School of Medicine at UC San Diego and Moores Cancer Center at the University of California San Diego has found that carrying out genomic evaluations of advanced malignancies can help guide initial treatment.
Their findings were published in “Genome Medicine.”
Cancers are complex on a molecular level, with each type made up of a different combination of genetic mutations that, in most cases, defy treatments. Tumor cells are known to adapt and become more resistant to treatments with every line and stage of therapy. Researchers theorize that developing individualized, matched combination therapies for advanced cancer patients who have never been treated may be effective and feasible.
For their research, the study authors enrolled 145 individuals who had been newly diagnosed with advanced malignancies at their two study sites: Aver Cancer Institute and Moores Cancer Center. Each patient either had a rare tumor with no approved therapy or an incurable and lethal cancer, with at least a 50% mortality rate.
The researchers carried out genomic profiling of all patients then identified and documented every detectable gene mutation, creating a molecular profile of every patient’s tumor. This profile would be useful in guiding precision cancer therapy.
Professor Jason Sicklick of the UC San Diego School of Medicine, who is the first author of the study, stated that every patient enrolled in the study received a personalized treatment plan that matched therapeutic agents to the biology of their tumor. The treatment plan also considered other variables, including comorbidities unique to the patient and underlying conditions.
In their report, the researchers state that of the total number of patients, roughly 75 received personalized treatments based off of their molecular profile. The remaining number couldn’t be treated because of various reasons, including clinical deterioration, insufficient organ function and death during the study period.
The median overall survival rate for the patients who underwent precision cancer therapy was 6.9 months, which is slightly more than the three months for the patients who didn’t receive the therapy.
The researchers note that their findings affirm the benefits of targeting more than one driver of cancer instead of single causes, adding that the research also shows that it is feasible to use this approach earlier in the treatment process of advanced malignancies as it improves outcomes. Fortunately, companies such as AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: ANPC) are making early cancer detection more accessible and accurate through the innovation of multicancer screening tools.
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