In the study, the researchers will genetically sequence the tumor cells of a group of women who have triple negative breast cancer.
When Dr. Bryan Schneider and Dr. Milan Radovich find the mutations in the tumor cells, they’ll send the data to Michigan-based Paradigm, which has a database of FDA-approved drugs that can be paired up to each mutation.
Here’s the thing: the patients’ cancers haven’t metastasized yet – which is different from other trials, where the patients were in advanced stages and genetic sequencing was a last resort.
“So the goal here is actually to put genomics earlier in the disease setting, so this population actually has a chance for a cure, and actually show that we can use genomics to increase the cure rate,” says Radovich, assistant professor of medical and molecular genetics.
He says this kind of genomic sequencing could make one-size-fits-all cancer treatment unnecessary in the future. And it would move the focus from targeting organs down to the molecular level of tumors.
Radovich says gene sequencing alone isn’t some kind of cancer miracle cure, however.
“I think we’ll see a day where we mix gene sequencing with immune therapy, maybe with chemotherapy, with some sort of vaccine if possible – and moving ahead with drug development. I think the hope is to be able to push on all fronts,” he says.
And there’s another potential problem – if the researchers find mutations in the tumor cells that don’t have FDA-approved drugs matched up to them, the patients will have to be moved to the control group of the study.