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Genomics Testing Offered to Guide Cancer Treatments

DNA fragment (Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri now provides a test for mutations in 28 genes associated with cancer to help determine the best treatment for cancer patients. Genes in the test are expected to cover a variety of different tumors, including those from blood, lymph, lung, brain, bladder, kidney, skin, stomach, prostate and breast cancers.

All of these genes can be tested individually for mutations, but identifying specific mutations in these genes can help doctors decide which treatments are most likely to benefit individual patients. Genomics and Pathology Services at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (GPS@WUSTL) will make the test available to physicians throughout the U.S. who can order a simultaneous examination of the genes most likely to influence treatment of a patient’s tumor.

GPS@WUSTL chose the 28 genes in the first test because all of the genes have implications for cancer therapy. The test can be adapted to add newly discovered mutations as they are clinically validated. The service plans to use new sequencing techniques and a bioinformatics platform to improve the sensitivity and accuracy of the results.

While costs for sequencing a patient’s entire genome are decreasing, it is still not considered economically feasible to perform whole-genome sequencing for clinical treatments. Sequencing of multiple genes known to influence a disease will produce the information physicians need to guide treatment decisions, and is less expensive than sequencing the genes separately.

Services provided by GPS@WUSTL are expected to be paid for by a health-care insurers, hospitals, patients, and federal research grants, and through partnerships with companies and foundations.

Read more: Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women’s Establish Genomic Database

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