Personalised Cancer Treatments
Personalised medicine involves the tailored diagnosis and treatment of patients depending on their genetic profile. In cancer research, this personalised approach aims to target the genomic abnormalities driving tumour development while reducing side-effects, often caused by variations in drug metabolism due to differences in a patient’s genetic code. The development of the anti-cancer drug Imatinib, approved by the FDA in 2001 for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia, provides a useful example. The disease is caused by a single aberrant protein related to the Philadelphia chromosomal translocation. This makes it highly suitable for targeted, personalised treatment. With the routine sequencing of a patient’s entire genome becoming economically more feasible, the data required to develop drugs targeting specific abnormalities will soon become readily available. The lengthy drug development stage that takes place once a target has been identified, in particular the approval and implementation of appropriate clinical trials, could result in a large delay in translating theory into practice. An additional concern is that due to the patient-specific nature of personalised medicine and therefore the great variation in drugs to be designed, the pharmaceutical industry may veer away from cancer drug development and move towards developing drugs for diseases with less variability .This POSTnote will focus on cancer research within personalised medicine, building on a previous POSTnote published in 2009 investigating personalised medicine as a whole. Cancer research is often said to be at the forefront of personalised medicine development and therefore a briefing note with this focus is appropriate. It also ties in with the current POSTnote on Clinical Trials, to be published in the Summer of 2011, which also briefly covers aspects related to stratified medicine and companion diagnostics.
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Cancer Treatments
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Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology of the UK Parliament (POST)
United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland