Personalized Medicine: Buzzwords Or The Best Way To Treat Cancer?

Science 2.0 (Feb 27, 2014)

It’s not often that cancer research gets compared to gridlock traffic in New York City but it makes some sense. If we are driving from Florida, we might take I-95 to get there, but if we are driving from California, we would take I-80. It’s a matter of circumstance and then some variables based on choice.

John McDonald, a professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta , says that cancers also have lots of routes to get to the same disease and that assessing the route to cancer on a case-by-case basis might make more sense than the way it is done now.
A new paper argues for the importance of personalized medicine, where we treat cancer by looking for the etiology of the disease in patients individually, rather than basing a patient’s cancer treatment on commonly disrupted genes and pathways. In doing so, their study found little or no overlap in the most prominent genetic malfunction associated with each individual patient’s disease, compared to malfunctions shared among the group of cancer patients as a whole. “The findings have ramifications on how we might best optimize cancer treatments as we enter the era of targeted gene therapy,” says McDonald about the study in PANCREAS earlier this month. (full story..(link to paper)