Tumors have significant differences depending on the person affected, even if they are the same cancer, such as breast cancer. Therefore, precision oncology focuses on the specific genetic characteristics of the tumor and incorporates them into the treatment. In this way, existing therapies can be “tailored” to avoid side effects and save money on expensive treatments. This represents the cancer treatment of the future.
Dr Dilara Akhound, medical oncologist at the University Hospital Bern and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bern, and Professor Mark A. Rubin, director of the Department for Biomedical Research (DBMR) and the Bern Center for Precision Medicine (BCPM), have now summarized and reviewed the latest advances in multi-omic tumor profiling. In their review published in a leading journal cancer cell, provide a critical look at the current state of translational validation of the reviewed technologies and analyze their potential for integration into precision processing.
These new technologies will take us to a depth of understanding of tumors that we have never seen before. As if we were told by standard instruments that Switzerland is a country at a higher altitude than the Netherlands; with these new technologies we can see a 3D landscape of mountains, valleys and lakes.”
Mark A. Rubin, director of the Bern Center for Precision Medicine
The fastest possible integration of new technologies into the clinic
However, there are still a number of hurdles to overcome before the latest technologies can be used in the clinic: among others, they still need to be standardized or require new infrastructures in the clinics due to the evaluation of very large volumes of data. or regulatory approval.
One of the latest promising technologies in precision oncology is liquid biopsy, which makes it possible to provide information about the type of cancer in patients more quickly and minimally invasively using a blood test. Especially in the case of tumors located deep in the body, e.g. in the lungs or pancreas, this requires invasive procedures, occasionally under general anesthesia. Many such technologies, such as liquid biopsy, are used in translational and clinical cancer research. Their clinical potential is already very high; they still require in some cases an additional method that increases the “precision of measurement” for certain samples. Other innovations are still in their infancy and need to be clinically validated to see if they can even achieve their goal.
Bern Initiative for Cancer Research in Switzerland
The advancement and implementation of new, cutting-edge technologies into precision medicine is a fundamental goal of BCPM. Cancer translational research projects led by BCPM researchers, such as those led by prof. by Mark A. Rubin, Prof. Marianna Kruithof-De Julio and prof. Sven Rottenberg, as well as close collaboration with clinical oncologists from the University Hospital of Bern and other Swiss institutions are essential for further progress in precision oncology and for patient access to new technologies. “In our review, we consider how these new approaches can be translated into tests that can better predict responses to tumor treatment in patients,” says Dilara Akhoundová, lead author of the study.
Another important initiative of Bern in the field of precision oncology is the Swiss Oncology and Cancer Immunology Breakthrough Platform (SOCIBP), which aims to create a common genomic “language” for Swiss cancer research: molecular tumor data will be presented and shared in a comprehensible way and genome testing throughout Switzerland will be standardized. The project is financed by the federal initiative Swiss Personalized Health Network (SPHN). “One of our current translational projects focuses on the standardization and clinical validation of genomic tests assessing DNA repair in prostate cancer and other solid tumors,” explains Rubin. The main goal of the project is to develop more reliable predictive biomarkers enabling accurate oncological treatment of tumors with DNA repair defects.
Link to journal:
Akhoundová, D., et al. (2022) Clinical application of advanced multi-omic tumor profiling: Shaping the precision oncology of the future. Cancer Cell. doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2022.08.011.
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