Genome expert says futuristic cancer treatments are a reality now
Several years ago, when a Washington University scientist was facing certain death from leukemia, his colleagues set out to find the gene that was driving his cancer.
By sequencing the genes of his cancer and those of healthy cells, they were able to zero in on the gene and find a new drug that specifically targeted it, said Elaine Mardis, PhD, during the 9th Annual Health Disparities Conference. Although the drug had never been used before to treat adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia, they were able to get permission to try it.
“Fourteen days later he was in remission,” said Dr. Mardis, Co-Director of The Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. “And he is still alive today.”
As keynote speaker for the conference focusing on “The Role of Genomics in Eliminating Health Disparities,” Dr. Mardis spoke on how genomic sequencing is changing the way cancer and other diseases are treated.
Much has changed since the human genome was sequenced a decade ago, she said. Then there was little understanding as to why some cancers melted away, while others did not respond to drugs, said Dr. Mardis, Professor of Genetics and Molecular Microbiology.
Today, more patients are being treated with drugs based on their specific tumor and genetic makeup. In the case of melanoma, cells from a patient’s own body are being used to create a vaccine that stimulates immunity and treats the cancer.
“This sounds futuristic,” Dr. Mardis said. “But it’s actually being used now.”
By Steven Bartolotta In 2007, TCOM’s Dr. Rita Patterson and Dr. Jennifer Wayne, a professor at Virginia Tech, recognized the need for women in the field of bioengineering to meet together, network, mentor and increase the representation of women in the field. Thus the ASME Bioengineering...Read more
Jun 23, 2021
A growing trove of data to help scientists understand the biology of Alzheimer’s disease among diverse populations within the context of sociocultural, behavioral and environmental factors is now available through the Institute for Translational Research at The University of North Te...Read more
Jun 22, 2021
By Diane Smith-Pinckney The embroidery on Vic Holmes’ black scrubs identify him as a physician assistant and an ally to LGBTQ+ patients. The words, stitched under a rainbow-colored Caduceus pin and near his heart, read: “Vic Holmes, PA-C, He/Him/His, Family Medicine.” Pronouns are...Read more
Jun 21, 2021
By Sally Crocker Katie Pelch, PhD, wants you to know what’s in our environment and how the chemicals we’re exposed to every day may affect our health. Dr. Pelch is a part-time Assistant Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, in the HSC School of Public Health (SPH), where...Read more
Jun 21, 2021