Thursday, June 12, 2014

Genome Sequencing Beats Cancer

The time and costs of genome sequencing are getting smaller every year. Within 5 to 10 years, cancer treatments tailored to individuals may be commonplace.

Dr. Lukas Wartman, a leukemia doctor, was diagnosed in 2003 with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. After his second relapse in 2011, the future seemed grim. As a last resort, his colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis decided to sequence his entire genome, exome, and RNA sequence. The university was able to pool its resources, and it took only a few weeks to extract and analysis his genetic information. After determining through RNA analysis that his FLT3 gene was over-expressed in cancer cells, his doctors prescribed Sutent, a drug made by Pfizer. Two weeks after taking this drug, Dr. Wartman's bone marrow biopsy and flow cytometry came back clean. Dr. Wartman then underwent another bone marrow transplant. As of September 2013, the cancer has not returned.

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