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New service brings power of genomics to patient care
Date:11/22/2011

Physicians can now take advantage of a new genetics test -- one of the first of its kind to be offered in the United States -- that can help determine the best treatment for cancer patients.

Genomics and Pathology Services at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (GPS@WUSTL) is now offering a test for mutations in 28 genes associated with cancer. The genes in the test affect a variety of different types of tumors, including blood, lymph, lung, brain, bladder, kidney, skin, stomach, prostate and breast cancers.

Identifying specific mutations in these genes can help doctors decide which treatments are most likely to benefit individual patients, which is the goal of genomic (or personalized) medicine.

All of these genes already can be tested individually for mutations. But using GPS@WUSTL, physicians throughout the country can order the new test to simultaneously examine the genes most likely to influence treatment of a patient's tumor.

According to GPS@WUSTL organizers, sequencing multiple genes at once is less expensive than sequencing the genes separately. The next-generation sequencing technique and the novel bioinformatics platform used to produce the data also will significantly improve the sensitivity and accuracy of the results.

Scientists envision the cancer genetics test as the first of many disease panels to be offered by GPS@WUSTL. Work is under way on similar panels that will influence the diagnosis and treatment of other disorders, including autism and kidney disease.

"GPS@WUSTL is bringing the promise of human genomics to the clinic," says Karen Seibert, PhD, director of GPS@WUSTL. "We use the latest gene sequencing technology and cross-reference the results to known treatment options for the patient's particular mutations. In addition to patient care, our labs will support clinical trials aimed at identifying new ways to diagnose and treat disease."

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Contact: Joni Westerhouse
westerhousej@wustl.edu
314-286-0120
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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