A novel method known as whole genome sequencing focuses on genes that drive a cancer, not the tissues or organ where it originates.
With a steep drop in the costs of sequencing and an explosion of research on genes, medical experts expect that genetic analyses of cancers will become routine. Just as pathologists do blood cultures to decide which antibiotics will stop a patient’s bacterial infection, so will genome sequencing determine which drugs might stop a cancer.
“Until you know what is driving a patient’s cancer, you really don’t have any chance of getting it right,” Dr. Ley said. “For the past 40 years, we have been sending generals into battle without a map of the battlefield. What we are doing now is building the map.”
Large drug companies and small biotechs are jumping in, starting to test drugs that attack a gene rather than a tumor type.
Leading cancer researchers are starting companies to find genes that might be causing an individual’s cancer to grow, to analyze genetic data and to find and test new drugs directed against these genetic targets. Leading venture capital firms are jumping into the field and getting involved.
Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald