Personalized Cancer Testing And Treatment Closer To Norm, Report Says
Cancer treatment is one area where the era of personalized medicine is arriving, according to market research publisher Kalorama Information.
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Since: Dec 05
#1 Apr 29, 2010
In reality, putting your thumb to the wind is really what cancer medicine has been doing all along with conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy and now with targeted therapy. Genetic profiles are useful in helping drug companies research possible new drug targets through clinical trials, but in regards to "drug selection," as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggests that day is still a ways off.
Medical research has focused a great deal on developing DNA (genomic) tests to identify various gene expressions, markers and mutations relevant to a person’s cancer. The hope is that genetic information will enable researchers to better predict how an individual will respond to various treatment options.
However, when it comes to predicting the best treatment for the individual, unlocking the complexities of a person’s DNA is not the answer, it is simply a starting point. In fact, a March 16, 2010 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute looked at the value of various gene tests and concluded none of the studies showed a clear usefulness.
Genomic tests provide lots of information about a patient’s genes. However, as the Journal article points out, there are so many sequences in our DNA which influence disease, that attempting to unravel such complexity just produces more and more information without a particularly useful benefit. While genes may provide a recipe, they do not determine the end results and cannot predict how an individual will respond to a specific treatment.
Like the various influences on a flower seed that cause one blossom to turn out differently from another, there are biological processes in the body that affect the development of cancer in each patient and determine how that patient’s cancer cells will uniquely react to treatment.
Despite its allure, the “genetic" path is not all that personalized. Treatment based on genetic testing is still a guessing game. Only a treatment regimen based on a “functional profile”– a real-time test of chemotherapy on the actual cancer tissue – can predict with accuracy an individual’s response to chemotherapy.
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