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April 26th, 2015

Does Precision Medicine Hold “Cure” for Cancer? Mayo Clinic’s Wyatt Decker, M.D., Joins Experts to Discuss

By Jeff Briggs

Milken Institute

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for a $215 million dollar investment in precision medicine with $70 million of that focused on National Cancer Institute activities to use genomics to improve cancer treatment. Mayo Clinic has been at the forefront of an individualized medicine strategy using state-of-the-art genomics, pharmacogenomics and other approaches for some time.

Mayo Clinic continues to be a leader in the research that is driving new treatment approaches for patients with melanoma, lung, and blood cancers, as well as chronic diseases like cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Personalized medicine — also known as individualized medicine — may involve molecularly targeted drugs and immunotherapies to produce better outcomes for patients.

Even the most cautious researchers and physicians are starting to use the word "cure" in some situations. But access to innovation can be limited. The cost to create these breakthrough drugs threatens to break the innovators who develop them as well as the entities that pick up the tab. How are new medicines integrated into standard-of-care to ensure all patients have equal access to the most promising treatments? What are the barriers and what do they mean for patients and their doctors?

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Wyatt Decker, M.D.

Mayo Clinic's Wyatt Decker, M.D., joins a panel at the Milken Institute's Global Conference to try to answer these and other important questions about finding a "cure" for cancer and the role precision medicine will have on health care in the 21st century. Dr. Decker joins a group of experts to discuss the challenges and also consider ways that next-generation science and innovative policies can be leveraged to make the best treatments available to patients.

Dr. Decker is vice president of Mayo Clinic and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Arizona. He helps direct Mayo Clinic's research, education and clinical operations in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

One topic the panel will discuss is the profound change in treatment for melanoma patients. The past few years have seen sweeping changes in cancer treatment, as exemplified by melanoma with eight new treatments approved since 2011. These include the latest in immunotherapies to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer. And melanoma is a case study in precision medicine since patients with a particular mutation are eligible for certain drugs that elicit amazing tumor shrinkage.

These medical breakthroughs go beyond melanoma — lung cancer treatments have seen similar breakthroughs. And the first immunotherapy for lung cancer was approved just months ago. Blood cancers, bladder cancer and others are next in line. These treatment approaches are major steps to convert once deadly cancers into managed chronic conditions like diabetes and HIV. Mayo Clinic researchers have also used next generation genomic analysis to determine that some of the more aggressive prostate cancer tumors have similar genetic origins, which may help in predicting cancer progression.

It has been said that we’re not at the beginning of the end, but at the end of the beginning to find cures for many cancers.

But none of this comes for free.

Choices are being made and experiments undertaken to allocate limited resources in the best way — a way that might well lead to translate these "cures" into better patient outcomes than are presently being achieved. How do we move from where we are — the start of saving lives — using not only these breakthrough drugs, but new tools like genomics, precision medicine, big data and mobile devices in innovative ways to increase efficiency and improve outcomes?

To find out, follow the conversation on Twitter at #MIGlobal or #MCCIM on Tuesday, April. 28, 2015, 3:45–4:45 p.m. PDT

The Milken Institute's Global Conference convenes some of the world's most extraordinary people to explore solutions to today's most pressing challenges in financial markets, industry sectors, health, government and education.

Tags: cancer, Genetics, Genome Sequencing, individualized medicine, mayo clinic, personalized medicine, Uncategorized, Wyatt Decker MD

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