How is Precision Medicine Used to Treat Cancer?

M2GEN utilizes the most advanced next-generation sequencing techniques and bioinformatics technologies to help our partners make personalized cancer therapy a reality for patients

For decades, cancer treatment has been based on a limited set of factors. Specifically, when a patient was diagnosed with cancer, physicians had little more to go on than the location and stage of the malignancy when developing a treatment plan. As cancer research progressed and technology such as imaging equipment advanced, physicians gained the ability to create more accurate models of individual patient cancers, which allowed them to home in on the best available treatment option and therefore improve outcomes. However, this still amounts to a one-size-fits-all approach with therapies being targeted to an “average patient.” But it has become clear that not only does the same type of cancer progress differently in different patients, but also that patients’ responses to the same treatment can vary widely.

This variation in disease progression and treatment response has been a long-standing challenge in oncology. However, after decades of intensive research, scientists are starting to develop solutions. Researchers have discovered that cancer development and progression are often linked to a patient’s individual genetic profile as well as genetic changes that occur within tumors. Indeed, the next stage in the fight against cancer requires a more robust understanding of these genetic factors and the development of personalized therapies to target them. This is the dawn of precision medicine, which is an approach to cancer care that is beginning to allow physicians to create targeted treatment plans based on the genetic features of their patients’ diseases. At M2GEN, an oncology-focused health informatics solutions company, advancing precision medicine is at the heart of what we do.

Advances That are Making Precision Medicine Possible

Precision medicine is not a novel concept; however, it is only recently that research breakthroughs and technological advancements have begun to pave the way for making targeted cancer therapies a reality.

Advances in genetic sequencing technologies represent a massive leap forward. In 2003, the Human Genome Project was completed. This was the first comprehensive mapping of the 3.2 billion base pairs that make up the human genome, and this technology has since been refined and leveraged in the development of precision medicine. For instance, next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques have allowed researchers to reduce costs while identifying genetic factors that drive the development and progression of different types of cancer as well as their response to certain treatments. Much of this research has focused on the exome, as this is the region of the genome that is most critical in identifying targets, such as specific biomarkers, that are actionable in the development of personalized therapies.

In addition to NGS techniques, advances in computational biology and bioinformatics have allowed researchers to analyze larger and larger sets of critical data more efficiently and cost-effectively. It is data, both clinical and molecular, that drives cancer research forward. Through the development of novel computational methods, bioinformaticists are making sense of this data, allowing researchers to establish highly specific sets of criteria to closely study the clinical and genetic features within certain patient cohorts. Discovering the differences and similarities in patient cohorts’ disease development, progression, and treatment response is key to developing the insights necessary to make cancer treatment more personalized.

How M2GEN Is Moving Precision Medicine Forward

Facilitating the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN®), an alliance of the nation’s top cancer centers, M2GEN has access to an unprecedented amount of longitudinal clinical and molecular data. We are helping bring about a new generation of precision medicine by unlocking the full power of this data, providing our research partners with custom and ready-made data solutions that fully leverage the power of NGS as well as advanced computational biology and bioinformatics. For example, ORIEN AVATAR®, our core solution, is optimized for oncology research and includes integrated clinical data and robust genomic information derived from:

  • Tumor-only whole exome sequencing (WES T-Only) analysis with virtual normal (VN) somatic mutation classification
  •  Tumor-only RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq T-Only) analysis
  •  Paired tumor and germline whole exome sequencing (WES T/G) analysis with panel of normals (PoN) filtering

With a commitment to remaining firmly positioned at the leading edge of advancements in genetic sequencing applications, M2GEN provides the most advanced and highly targeted analyses possible. Our analyses target oncology-actionable genes for double coverage, cancer-related intronic regions from structural variation detection, and cancer-related promoter and enhancer regions.

Together with the key stakeholders in cancer research, including patients, physicians, researchers and scientists, M2GEN is helping create a clear picture of the risk factors that contribute to cancer development, the genetic features that affect cancer progression, and most importantly, the targets for personalized cancer therapies. Our oncology-focused informatics solutions structure and contextualize the data we make available to our research partners. By allowing for the efficient creation of robust comparator cohorts, the development of in silico clinical trial designs, and other studies with highly specific research parameters, we are making personalized cancer treatment a reality.

Precision Medicine Is the Future of Cancer Care

Although precision medicine is still an emerging science, it shows enormous promise. Discoveries are being made every day, and M2GEN’s dynamic databases are continuously updated to ensure our partners always have access to the latest data. We’re proud to provide researchers with indispensable tools that are at the center of a rapidly advancing revolution in cancer care. To learn more about our contributions to precision medicine, contact M2GEN today.