Cancer Revolution: Genetics & Personalized Medicine

The way we think of and treat cancer is rapidly changing thanks to falling gene sequencing prices, growing data about cancer genetics and new drugs targeting specific mutated genes.

What's the Latest Development?


No longer a theoretical possibility, cancer treatments are fundamentally changing, ushering in the long-awaited era of personalized medicine. Foundation Medicine is a private medical laboratory on the cutting edge of some very promising cancer research. The company currently performs genetic biopsies on patient tumors, hunting for genetically mutated genes which could be countered by the pharmaceutical industry's growing interest in targeting specific genes with new drugs. Patients of these drugs are tested for specific genes first.

What's the Big Idea?

As with many breakthroughs that part ways with convention, the way we conceive of cancer is changing thanks to the abundance of genetic information we are able to gather about it. Thinking of cancer in terms of which organ it affects--breast cancer, lung cancer, etc.--may shortly become antiquated. The gene HER2, for example, which is found in breast cancer, is also frequently present in gastric cancers. Thus, new medications could target this gene in common, possibly treating both with the same pill.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

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