Promises & Challenges of Targeted Cancer Therapy
The ultimate goal of personalized medicine is to deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time—treatment that is potentially more effective, has fewer side effects, and improves patient outcomes.
Advances in cancer genomics, the increasing development and approval or targeted cancer therapies, and the availability of robust, comprehensive molecular diagnostic tests to characterize patient cancers are bringing the promise of personalized medicine to clinical reality.
Targeted therapeutics already in use
Historically, cancer has been treated based on the site where the tumor originated. Today, this paradigm is evolving as a number of targeted treatments are FDA approved and in routine clinical use.
One of the earliest successes was the development of trastuzumb and lapatinib to treat breast cancers exhibiting HER2-neu gene amplification. Use of those drugs has been successfully extended to HER2 positive upper GI cancers. More recently, gefitinib and erlotinib, therapies that target an EGFR mutation, have been approved for the treatment of non-small cell lung carcinoma.
Numerous other therapies targeting specific alterations present in one or more types of cancer are available or in clinical trials.
Challenges for molecular diagnostics—more tests, less tissue
Tumor biopsies have become less invasive. Since cancers are generally detected earlier, smaller amounts of tumor tissue can be captured. Yet physicians need to obtain a great deal of information from these increasingly smaller tissue samples.
Molecular diagnostic tests available until now have been limited in scope. Many look only for specific alterations that are known to be present with a significant frequency in certain types of cancer. As a result, physicians need to order multiple tests to obtain complete information. The amount of time, resources and tissue required for this is often prohibitive. Additionally, no resource has existed whereby physicians can easily interpret clinically relevant genomic data and treatment information within the context of each individual patient’s disease to reliably optimize cancer treatment.
By providing pan-tumor analysis with previously unprecedented sensitivity and specificity, FoundationnOneTMaddresses these issues in a way that enables molecular diagnostic testing to fit into routine practice as part of the evaluation of patient tumors.