Using Precision Medicine to Cure Metastatic Cancer
As a leader in the personalized medicine approach, Personalized Hematology-Oncology of Wake Forest’s own Dr. Francisco Castillos spoke at the Precision Medicine World Conference in Silicon Valley, California, in late January 2020. This conference gathers recognized leaders, medical professionals and top global researchers to promote collaboration in the field of precision medicine.
Dr. Castillos shared his expertise and experience on curing metastatic cancer using personalized genome expression profiling.
Dr. Castillos presented clear evidence using personalized medicine to provide a molecularly-targeted approach for the other 95% of patients that do not have an oncogenic driver mutation or actionable mutation based off of their next generation sequencing.
Here, we highlight the main points from Dr. Castillos’ talk:
What is precision medicine in cancer treatment?
According to the Precision Medicine Initiative, precision medicine, or next generation genome sequencing, is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment and lifestyle for each person.”
An extension of traditional cancer treatment approaches, precision medicine involves tailoring medical treatments to the unique characteristics of each patient. Precision medicine relies on scientific research and understanding of how a patient’s unique genetic profile makes them vulnerable to certain cancers and less vulnerable to others.
This research also helps to determine which cancer treatments will be safe and effective for each patient. Based on each patient’s genetic profile, doctors and researchers can more accurately predict which treatment and prevention strategies for a specific cancer will work best for each individual.
The limits of precision medicine for oncology
When treating oncology patients, precision medicine provides the entire DNA sequence of the cancer, so we can better pinpoint the mutations of tumors. However, precision medicine provides a treatment with an oncogenic driver mutation or molecularly targeted drug in only 5% of patients, based on a sequence mutation in the DNA of the individual’s cancer.
Many gifted researchers and physicians from prominent universities across the United States presented their work regarding precision medicine and molecular tumor boards, debating how to bring an individualized treatment plan for each patient’s tumor. To-date, universities have been spending millions of dollars on sequencing equipment, information technology and software development to achieve a treatment in only 5% of patients.
The promise of a cancer treatment for all
Dr. Castillos presented clear evidence using personalized medicine to provide a molecularly-targeted approach for the other 95% of patients that do not have an oncogenic driver mutation or actionable mutation based off of their next generation sequencing. By creating an Affymetrix gene expression profile from fresh tissue biopsies of a tumor, Dr. Castillos has been able to develop a “blueprint” of an individual’s tumor to determine the specific signal transduction pathways used by the patient’s cancer cells for proliferation, cell invasion and angiogenesis.
Dr. Castillos provided examples of patients cured of stage IV or metastatic cancers using personalized medicine. He also provided the methods used and urged these methods to be used at the community oncologist level in collaboration with universities to provide a personalized medicine approach at a fraction of the cost.
Personalized medicine for cancer treatment in Raleigh
A core focus of Personalized Hematology-Oncology of Wake Forest is to offer personalized cancer therapy. Our treatments are based on the gene expression profile found in the tumor and tailored to each patient’s specific needs.