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Company, Institute Studying Youth Lung Cancer Genomes

Barbara Gitlitz

Barbara Gitlitz (University of Southern California)

23 July 2014. Foundation Medicine, a company providing genome-based personalized cancer diagnostics, and Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute are studying the genomes of younger lung cancer patients to uncover differences in their cancer and identify therapies for this population. Financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Some 224,000 people in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014, with current and former smokers at the highest risk of the disease. An estimated 4,500 of these new cases will be individuals under the age of 45. Many people in this age group are non-smokers and do not have the usual mutations associated with lung cancer, which suggests other genetic factors are at work.

The Genomics of Young Lung Cancer study is being conducted by Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute, an affiliate of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation in San Carlos, California, and led by Barbara Gitlitz, a professor of medicine at University of Southern California. The study plans to enroll 60 patients diagnosed with lung cancer under the age of 40.

Foundation Medicine, in Cambridge, Massachusetts provides profiles of a patient’s cancer, both solid tumors and blood-related cancers, using high-throughput genomic sequencing, to identify genetic alterations that may be driving the cancer’s progression and can help define personalized therapies. In this study, Foundation Medicine’s technology will identify unique genetic alterations associated with lung cancer in younger patients to better understand these specific types of the disease. The genomic findings for individual patients will also be provided to their physicians.

“Lung cancer is fundamentally different in young adults and the current standard of care does not account for this distinction,” says Gitlitz in a Foundation Medicine statement. “This trial has the potential to significantly improve treatment options for young adults through a more thorough understanding of the genomic drivers of lung cancer unique to these patients.”

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