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March 28, 2007

U.S. Company Formed For Individualized Cancer Treatment

Topics: Medicine
Proteomic technologies have been used to predict which patients will respond to therapy and why. But proteomics can go beyond a prediction and help us understand which pathways to pursue in patients who, based on that prediction, are destined to fail conventional therapies.
Conf_06_Logo.jpg George Mason University researchers have announced the formation of a company to tailor cancer treatments to individual patients based on new technology that tracks protein activity in tumor cells. Instead of current "one-size-fits-all" methods to choose chemotherapy agents for patients, information on the protein activity in tumor cells is expected to allow doctors to select the drug best suited to attack a patient's tumor. The technology is expected to analyze the cellular circuitry in tumor tissue and identify pathways that are driving the growth of cancer in an individual patient which is expected to provide a new class of information about that patient's individual cancer.

If the technology sounds like a great idea, it is, because individualized cancer treatment has come a long way and has long been envisioned as the best way to treat cancer, once the technology became available to do so. As one of the researchers suggests, it's a good idea to prescribe the right therapy to the right patient, with the aim of providing a higher treatment success rate while sparing patients unnecessary toxicity from drugs that are ill-suited for their tumors. Do I have reservations about the timing of a large-scale functional marriage between the technology to analyze and the technology to treat? Yes.

I'm reminded of the promise and expectations of immunotherapy back in the early 1980s, when in spite of great promise and great expectations, ultimately success hinged upon a simple matter. In science and medicine one more often than not only gets answers to the questions one asks. Of importance here is where on a time line of reality are we in matching questions related to analysis to answers related to treatment. The match is surely coming soon, at issue is when. My opinion is that we still have a way to go before the Mason Dixon researchers plans reach the mainstream.

Cross posted from NewHopeBlog

Posted by Richard at March 28, 2007 4:43 PM

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