The Precision Medicine Initiative was announced on January 20, 2015 in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Mr. Obama stated, “I want the country that eliminated polio…to lead a new era of medicine…I am launching the Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases such as cancer…and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.” The Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) is a $215 million investment in for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and includes $70 million for precision medicine in oncology.
Precision medicine is an individualized approach that prolongs life, allows a greater enjoyment of life, and ultimately, celebrates life. Specific diagnostic markers are identified in tissues and body fluids by advanced research techniques such as genomic sequencing and mass spectrometry, and those markers can be used for diagnosis, prognosis, and management of treatment. In the last decade, genomic information has given impetus to the development of cancer treatments, for example, the drug imatinib (GleevecⓇ) was designed to inhibit an altered enzyme produced by a fused version of two genes found in chronic myelogenous leukemia.Read More
Microarray technology has been widely used in medical science since the late 1990's. A tissue microarray (TMA) block takes cores or punches from defined histological areas in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) blocks and inserts them into a unique, non-patient block. This enables researchers to perform rapid analysis of hundreds of tumors at DNA, RNA, or protein levels.
By enabling investigators to test tissues from many patients simultaneously, microarray technology reduces costs and speeds translation of basic research findings to clinical findings. This technology has been particularly helpful in the field of oncology, where studies using tissue microarrays have led to the discovery of several oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes implicated in cancer progression.
Microarrays also enable oncology researchers to compare cancer tissues to noncancerous tissues. This aids in the analysis of gene expression alterations that can be found when comparing pre-cancerous areas to normal areas. It also increases the efficiency of studies designed to develop or validate antibodies or probes using immunohistochemistry or fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).Read More
“Change is the law of life,” said President John F. Kennedy in a June 1963 speech. For scientists and clinicians who do research with biospecimens, change is driven by the rapid expansion of knowledge in the field of genomic analysis of tissues and body fluids and the inherent benefit to the human species that this type of study can bring.
It is difficult, however, to know in advance how biospecimens can and will be used in medical and scientific research, and for this reason, there is a fine line between patient rights and medical research. Oncology biospecimens available to scientists are frequently obtained in the course of routine medical procedures, and informed consent should always be acquired if tissue will be used for research.Read More
Genomics has revolutionized the way we approach cancer diagnostics and therapeutics in recent years. Breast cancer is no longer an all-encompassing term, but is recognized as biologically and molecularly distinct diseases that require different approaches. Analyzing cancerous tissue from patients and comparing its molecular profile to healthy tissue has provided a plethora of information in the field and, specifically, has given oncologists a new tool for assessing recurrence risk in patients. This is important as the risk of recurrence impacts the way we treat patients. Today, many studies are being conducted on human breast cancer tissue to try to more accurately predict recurrence of the disease and to, therefore, determine the most appropriate course of treatment.Read More
The 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in June featured unprecedented optimism driven by the emergence of convincing evidence that immunotherapy works. Several studies presented at the meeting showed that immunotherapy substantially extended overall survival, with some patients not relapsing during the study period.
Advanced malignancies as diverse as metastatic melanoma, bladder cancer, triple negative breast cancer, recurrent head and neck cancer, myeloma, small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer all showed strong response and improved outcomes with immunotherapy. Those results represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of research on the relationship between specific mutations, therapies, and cancer.Read More
Tissue microarrays (TMA) have emerged as an important tool for the development of diagnostics, therapeutics and for identifying novel protein markers and genes in normal versus disease state samples. The chips, which are comprised of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues from various sources assembled on a single histology slide, provide a high-throughput platform for rapid analysis of gene or protein expression in different tissues. The TMA platform is suitable for various approaches including: immunohistochemistry (IHC); in situ hybridization (ISH); and in situ PCR assays. Perhaps the most valuable attribute of the high-quality TMA is the detailed annotation and clinical history that accompanies the tissue samples. This crucial information alongside consistent, optimal slide quality ensures the most accurate and comprehensive interpretation of results possible, and the implications of this tool for pharmacogenetic research are vast.Read More
The myth of Pandora tells the tale of a beautiful lady who was given a jar and told not to open it. She did open the jar, and all the ills the world flew out into the air. But at the bottom of the jar she saw something very beautiful, which was “Hope.” Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder with no cure as yet. The illness causes progressive motor impairment in greater than 1% of people over 65 years of age and in approximately 5 million people globally.
PD has no cure, but patients and those who care for them still have “hope” for the future. Even now, patients can look forward to significantly improved quality of life with medication and lifestyle modifications.
As the new era of personalized medicine dawns, researchers know that there is a pressing need for biomarkers to diagnose PD, assess severity, and aid in prognosis.Read More