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Penn Medicine's New Center For Personalized Diagnostics Unlocks Cancer's Secrets
Date:4/6/2013

id tumors of the brain, melanoma, and lung. Throughout 2013, the tests will be expanded for a wider range of cancer patients. Results are available within two weeks - twice as fast as most commercially available testing panels. All new and relapsed Abramson Cancer Center patients will receive this testing - conducted via simple blood tests and/or biopsy of tumor tissue or bone marrow - as part of their evaluation and diagnostic process. Interpretation of results is communicated one-on-one to patients and their caregivers by physicians and genetic counselors.

In contrast to the CPD's offerings, individual genetic tests - which now proliferate in the marketplace, even for healthy people who may be interested in going on a spelunking expedition through their DNA - are time consuming and expensive to conduct, and they often yield information which is not clinically actionable. When these tests are offered for cancer patients, patients are often left with only a veritable alphabet soup detailing genetic information, with few plans for how to use those findings to conquer their cancer.

Since the CPD began operating in early 2013, however, tests in 80 percent of patients revealed genetic mutations that may be used to alter their treatment course or clarify their prognosis. The results are playing a role in:

  • Matching patients with existing therapies designed to target mutations previously associated only with different cancers. For instance, some lung cancer patients exhibit mutations of the BRAF gene, which is targeted by drug Vemurafenib, initially developed and approved for melanoma. Testing in the Center for Personalized Diagnostics is helping clinicians make new connections that will expand the indications for existing drugs.
  • Helping physicians determine which treatments a patient will respond to, or how well they will tolerate a particular treatment. Patients with the blood cancer acute myel
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SOURCE Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
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