Cancer: A precision approach to tumour treatment
Precision cancer therapy pairs the latest insights into tumour biology with cutting-edge technologies to identify gene alterations that can be directly matched to anti-cancer agents. Writing in Cancer Discovery, Pauli et al.1 outline how they have opened another chapter of this work by using DNA sequencing of tumour samples along with testing of patient-derived cellular models. This enables the use of high-throughput drug screening to assess treatment-response patterns and thereby expand the options for tailoring cancer therapy to the individual.
Pauli and colleagues initiated a clinical-research programme that sequenced the DNA of protein-coding regions of the genome in samples of individual patient’s tumours, as well as their healthy tissue for comparison, to identify tumour-specific alterations that might be drug targets. However, the authors soon realized that DNA-sequence information alone was insufficient to guide therapeutic decision-making in most cases. Of the 501 people with cancer who were tested, the majority of whom had advanced-stage disease, only around 10% had gene alterations that could be directly matched to targeted agents approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This percentage included those whose tumours might be targeted through ‘off-label’ drug use, in which a treatment approved to target an alteration in one tumour type could be repurposed to treat other tumour types. Read the full story.