Mayo Clinic researchers are taking a distinctive all-hands-on-deck approach to cancer, driven by advanced genetic analysis and clinical sciences to personalize treatments for every cancer patient. Clinicians and researchers work side by side, developing groundbreaking therapies to provide patients with answers, treatment options and optimism. This year's virtual Mayo Clinic Individualizing Medicine Conference on Oct. 8-9 will bring together some of the top researchers and clinicians to share the latest developments in precision cancer care. Here are three of our featured speakers:
Niloy Jewel Samadder, M.D., Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and hepatologist, Niloy Jewel Samadder, M.D., and his team, recently published a study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology that found 1 in 6 patients with colorectal cancer had an inherited cancer-related gene mutation, which likely predisposed them to the disease. In addition, the researchers discovered that 60% of these cases would not have been detected if relying on a standard guideline-based approach. The patients were tested with a sequencing panel that included more than 80 cancer-causing or predisposing genes. In comparison, standard panels for colorectal cancer only include 20 or fewer genes.
"Though the most common mutations were found in genes typically associated with colorectal cancer, we found that a substantial number of mutations were present in genes typically associated with breast and ovarian cancer," Dr. Samadder explains. "This may lead to novel targeted therapies based on the cancer's unique genetic basis. For example, where a breast cancer drug can be used in a patient with colon cancer."
Minetta C. Liu, M.D., Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic Oncologist Minetta Liu, M.D. was involved in the development of a new multi-cancer early cancer detection (MCED) test called Galleri™ that can detect more than 50 types of cancers through a simple blood draw. When a cancer signal is detected, the Galleri test can identify where in the body the cancer is located with high accuracy — a critical component to help enable health care providers to direct diagnostic next steps and care.
“Today, many cancers are found too late, leading to poor outcomes,” says Dr. Liu. “The ability to detect cancer early is critical to successful treatment.”
Dr. Liu is also part of a collaborative team of Mayo Clinic scientists studying an innovative strategy for treating advanced cancer, using genomics and human tumor samples as their guide. The novel approach, called Ex Vivo, creates a miniature cancer replica for testing therapies outside a patient’s body, combined with a comprehensive genomic analysis of a patient’s cancer cells.
“Ex Vivo is a collaborative research platform developed through CIM’s Biomarker Discovery Laboratory and spans across the Mayo Clinic Enterprise. This is the paradigm we need to improve outcomes in advanced malignancies. There are very few metastatic or advanced cancers for which available therapies provide meaningful longevity,” Dr. Liu says. “Precision drug selection is clearly needed. This will be accomplished through genomics and functional modeling to gauge which therapies will work best for an individual at that particular point in their disease course.”
Hong Qin, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
Hong Qin, M.D., Ph.D., is working to develop first-in-class CAR-T cell products, procedures and treatments. The goal is to expand regenerative immunotherapy options to treat more types of cancers and potentially to treat neurological and autoimmune disorders.
CAR-T cell therapy seeks to harness the power of the immune system by genetically modifying cells, essentially equipping them to go on search-and-destroy missions to kill cancer. These engineered cells act like a living drug continually working within the body to cure disease.
The key hurdles to bringing CAR-T cell therapy to more patients are cost and access. It's expensive and there are long waits for clinical trials. Mayo Clinic is addressing those hurdles through CAR-T translational research being conducted by Dr. Qin.
"When I was in medical school, I was taught that blood cancer was incurable," Dr. Qin said. "But with CAR-T cell therapy, a significant number of patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias can survive long term without the tumor coming back."
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Tags: cancer, cancer genomics, Cancer Research, genomic medicine, individualized medicine, Individualized Medicine Conference 2016, Precision Medicine