Investigators working on the precision medicine initiative at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey are embarking on a genomic analysis study which could illuminate more options in developing personalized and precise treatments for cancer patients. It is believed that some rare and poor prognosis cancers that currently have limited treatment options may harbor genomic changes that can potentially be treated with specific targeted therapies. Through Next Generation Sequencing and data analysis of DNA in tissue samples, researchers aim to identify these changes in order to guide treatment. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey is a Center of Excellence of The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Instead of a "one size fits all" approach, precision medicine drills down to the tiniest of details when it comes to examining molecular and genomic information. The aim is to identify changes and patterns in individual cancers that may influence therapy outcomes. The study is an option for patients for whom standard therapy is not effective. In this study, a genomic analysis of tissue samples will be conducted to determine exact gene abnormalities potentially responsible for their particular cancer. The goal is to pinpoint what drives the growth of cancer cells. This analysis includes targeted Next Generation Sequencing, which will examine more than 200 genes, in which findings of specific abnormalities may predict the vulnerability of individual cancers to specific targeted treatments.
Shridar Ganesan, MD, PhD, a medical oncologist who was recently named associate director for translational science at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, is heading the current analysis study. "In recent years we have learned that cancers that arise in one organ, such as breast cancer or lung cancer, are not just one disease, but rather a collection of distinct diseases with varying responses to different treatment strategies. We therefore need to examine many features of each cancer to better classify it and identify effective treatment," notes Dr. Ganesan, who is an assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.