The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital have taken on a seemingly Herculean task with their new genomic database, called Profile. By compiling genetic data on nearly every cancer patient treated at the Brigham and Dana-Farber clinics in the Longwood Medical Area in Boston, the groups hope to personalize cancer treatments for each patient based on cancer type, treatment response, side effects and relapse rates.
The Profile program has been in the works for over two years. The extensive database can test tumor samples for nearly 500 cancer mutations from 41 genes. The developers of Profile recognized the diversity of malignant tumors, even among those that may look and act similarly, which has driven the program to its current, and future, size. The collaborators expect that Profile will attract more than 10,000 new participants per year. Among the benefits of the project, researchers hope that the data will be used to determine patients' eligibility for clinical trials. Next year the effort will be expanded to include pediatric cancer patients treated at Dana-Farber and Children's Hospital Boston.
Dana-Farber and Brigham are on the cutting edge of using genetic data on patients' cancers to match them with drugs that target specific mutations. These targeted therapies have been useful to treat a variety of tumors such as certain forms of breast, lung and blood cancers. With the Profile database, the leaders of the program aim to harness data on the genetic weaknesses on additional tumor types in hopes of expanding personalized cancer therapy for patients.
"Profile will put us firmly on the path to realizing the promise of personalized medicine," said Dr. Barrett Rollins, Dana-Farber's chief scientific officer, in a release. "By 'genotyping' each tumor--identifying the set of mutations that drive it--we'll be able to design therapies geared specifically to those mutations, depriving the tumor of the ability to sustain itself while producing a minimum of side effects. We're laying the foundation for the development, testing and implementation of such therapies, and we expect the project to grow as we discover new cancer-related gene mutations and with the development of new technologies."
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