Advantages of personalized cancer therapy

Cancer is often described as a genetic disease, since the transition a cell goes through in becoming cancerous tends to be driven by changes to the cell's DNA. And increasingly, new cancer drugs depend on knowing whether a mutation in a single gene is present in a patient's cancer cells. The presence of a mutation in a gene can potentially determine which treatment a patient should receive (drugs, chemotherapy type). Molecular diagnosis uses information about patient's genetic profile to help identify who may benefit from which specific therapies. When using molecular diagnosis, treatment can be tailored to suit individual patients’ needs rather than using the traditional one-size-fits-all approach of conventional chemotherapy. The new somatic cancer panel offered by the DNA Research Center can save significant amount of money, cutting the drug costs by getting patients on to the right treatments straightaway, reducing harm from side effects as well as the time lost before arriving at an effective treatment. This new 60 gene test moves us away from conventional methods for sequencing of single genes, and marks a huge step towards more comprehensive genome sequencing in both infrastructure and in handling the data produced.

Targeted treatment

Figure. The picture presents two types of therapies.

On the left, regular therapy was implemented, which means that all of the cancer patients were treated with the same drug. That resulted in different effects of treatment (In the first group of patients therapy turned out to be effective, there was a positive response to the given drug. Nevertheless, therapy gave no effect or even an adverse effect on other patients.)

On the right, biomarker diagnosis (biochemical and genetic screening was performed). Proper treatment was implemented on a basis of biomarker diagnosis. As a result all patients have received an effective therapy.

Targeted cancer therapies give medical oncologists a better way to customize cancer treatment. Advantages of molecularly targeted therapy include:

  • Potentially less harm to normal cells
  • Potentially fewer side effects
  • Improved effectiveness
  • Improved quality of life

Percentage of patients for whom drugs are ineffective.

Percentage of patients for whom drugs are ineffective

It’s a significant step change in the way we do things.

For example, a lung cancer patient may have a biopsy taken to check for changes in the EGFR gene. If there is a mutation, the patient may then be treated with a drug that works as an EGFR inhibitor. If there is no mutation, such drugs won't work and the patient would get a different drug that would be more effective for them. Knowing the presence or absence of mutations in a certain gene can determine the treatment path for that patient.