TGen, Mayo sequence pancreatic cancer tumor

February 16, 2011

By hammersmith

[From the Arizona Republic]

Ken Alltucker of the Republic reports on an important project that the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the Mayo Clinic (Scottsdale) have completed: sequencing the genome of a pancreatic cancer tumor–quickly.

Doctors and scientists have talked about the prospect of tailored medical treatments based on an individual’s DNA since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. Yet the technology has provided few practical tools for doctors as they provide care for patients facing life-threatening disease.

“We were impressed with the technology,” said Keith Stewart, Mayo Clinic’s dean of research. “What we couldn’t figure out is how we would make this clinically applicable for the future.”

The extraction and sequencing took 6 weeks, and cost an estimated $150,000. But given the expense of many cancer-fighting drugs, and the potential for sequencing costs to continue falling, TGen and Mayo are already closing in on a clinical viability.

John Carpten, director of TGen’s cancer-genomics division, said that the cost of such DNA sequencing should be compared to existing chemotherapy drugs. Such cancer drugs may cost as much as $60,000 to $70,000 per round, and patients often must endure multiple rounds of such therapies before they find one that is effective for them.

“What if you spend tens of thousands up front to try to figure out the right regimen to give patients?” Carpten said. “We are in the proof-of-principle stage. We have to prove to the medical establishment that providing this type of molecular detail is as or more beneficial (than current therapies). It is up to us to prove it.”

Read more at the source: “DNA quickly mapped in study by Mayo Clinic, TGen