DNA profiling promises cancer breakthrough in five years

Jan 29, 2013

Personalised treatment could make cancer a chronic condition, rather than a death sentence

NEW cancer treatments based around the DNA of tumours could turn the disease into a manageable condition rather than a "death sentence" in the next five years.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London have launched a new tumour profiling unit to rapidly sequence the DNA of cancer samples. The £3m, three-year project aims to "advance knowledge of the genetic profile of cancer", according to the Daily Telegraph.

The paper explains that genetic profiling can lead to targeted treatments and says "doctors hope it will be an important step towards transforming some types of cancer into a chronic rather than fatal disease".

Some cancer sufferers are already prescribed drugs depending on the genetic make-up of their cancer. Women suffering from breast cancer, for example, can be treated with the drug Herceptin, provided the tumour contains a certain gene.

The project at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London is expected to widen the net and lead to more personalised treatment plans. And the new approach could allow terminally ill patients, who are only expected to live for a few months, to survive for years.

"The rapid pace of change in DNA sequencing is leading to a transformation in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer," says The Independent. "In the coming decade every cancer patient will receive a genetic profile of their disease, scientists predict."

Professor Brian Ashworth of the ICR explained that the research could "signal a significant shift in the way medicine is performed for cancer" because drugs will be prescribed according to the make-up of the cancer rather than the type of disease.

Sign up for our daily newsletter