August 2, 2017

Expanding the search: genetic testing reveals new targets, treatment options for cancer patients

By Sharon Rosen

Researchers in Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine are using new genetic tests developed at Mayo Clinic to find more effective therapies for cancer patients who have not benefited from standard treatment and are running out of options. The new tests look at a broader range of genetic characteristics than many standard tests. As a result, researchers have found changes in a patients’ DNA not previously detected, offering new targets for personalized treatment and new hope for patients.

So what is the process used to identify new treatment options for patients? First, physicians perform a biopsy to obtain a tissue sample of a patient’s tumor for genetic testing. Next, researchers analyze test results and look for unique genetic changes linked to the tumor’s growth that can be targeted with treatment.

Aaron Mansfield, M.D.

“For example, a patient with lung cancer recently visited our clinic. He had already undergone genetic testing at home, and the results did not show any genetic changes commonly found for his disease. We performed a comprehensive set of genomic tests on the patient’s tumor sample. Test results from one of our newly developed tests, called mate-pair sequencing, identified a change in his DNA structure that opens up a whole new set of available, FDA-approved treatments for his specific tumor type. While he has done miraculously well on standard treatment so far, he will most likely need additional therapy. Because of our testing, he will now have new proven options to treat his cancer,” says Aaron Mansfield, M.D.

This innovative way of fighting cancer is part of The Integrated Genome-analysis Enabled Response Biomarker Program or TIGER-Bio study, which is underway in Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine Biomarker Discovery Program. The study seeks to develop biomarker tests, which look for changes in blood and tissue, to help physicians more accurately diagnose disease, choose targeted therapy and monitor treatment for seven types of cancer: sarcoma, ovarian, pancreatic, biliary, prostate, lung, and urothelial.

In addition to using genomic testing to identify genetic variations linked to tumor growth, study investigators are working to:

  • Develop new ways to grow a patient’s tumor in a lab, so investigators can test different treatments outside the patient’s body
  • Use blood tests, known as liquid biopsies, to detect  recurrence of cancer in its earliest stages when it is most treatable
  • Develop effective therapies that can be applied more broadly to all cancer patients

George Vasmatzis, Ph.D.

With this integrated approach, we hope to identify unique genetic and biological characteristics that will help us select and monitor proven targeted therapies for each patient. Our team of researchers and physicians are working together to take the guess work out of choosing a cancer treatment by identifying the  therapy that holds the most promise for each patient,” says George Vasmatzis, Ph.D., co-director, Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine Biomarker Discovery Program

Learn more about biomarker discover and the TIGER-Bio study

 Register for the 2017 Individualizing Medicine Conference

Learn more about precision medicine, including biomarker discovery, and how it can be applied to improve diagnosis and treatment for many conditions at Individualizing Medicine 2017: Advancing Care Through Genomics.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, is hosting the sixth annual genomics conference, October 9–10, in Rochester, Minnesota.

Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is hosting the conference with support from the Jackson Family Foundation.


Tags: #3-d models, #boimarker, #CIMCon17, #DNA analysis, #Dr. Aaron Mansfield, #Dr. George Vasmatizis, #genetic variations, #liquid biopsies, center for individualized medicine, Genetic Testing, genomics, Lung Cancer, mate-pair sequencing, mayo clinic, Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine Biomarker Discovery Program, medical research, Precision Medicine

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