Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cancer Initiative Launched

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) just launched its new “Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative” to become the first cancer center in the Southeast and one of the first in the nation to offer cancer patients’ routine “genotyping” of their tumors at the DNA level.

The University will use its EMR system to use the genotype information to help in point-of-care decision-making. “The EMR for each patient is automatically updated to contain the latest genome-based treatment information, so that all healthcare provides at Vanderbilt are fully informed and guided by the latest decision support on advanced therapies,” said Dan Masys, M.D., Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics.

Jeff Balser M.D., Ph.D, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, notes, “We are rapidly expanding our ability to precisely identify genetic differences between patients, and make rational treatment decisions at the bedside. Through a unique and cohesive set of advances that combine innovations in healthcare informatics, genomics, and drug discovery, we are beginning to deliver on the promise of the Human Genome Project, with highly personalized therapy for our patients.”

The first tumor types to be tested are certain forms of lung cancer and melanoma. Both have been difficult to treat but new therapies that target specific genetic alterations in the tumors have shown promising results. According to William Pao, M.D., PhD, in charge of the personalized cancer medicine program at the university, the VICC program will examine more than 40 mutations in lung cancer and melanoma that are potentially relevant to existing and emerging targeted therapies. As additional tumor-specific mutations are identified, they will be added to the screening panel and new screening panels for cancers are in development.

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