VICC Launches Genome-Driven Therapy

August 4, 2010

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) has launched its new Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative, becoming the first cancer center in the Southeast and one of the first in the nation to offer adult cancer patients routine “genotyping” of their tumors at the DNA level.

This information will then be used to personalize treatment by matching the appropriate therapy to the genetic changes, or mutations, that are driving the cancer’s growth.

The first tumors to be tested are types of non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Both have been notoriously difficult to treat but new therapies that target specific genetic alterations in the tumors have shown promising results.

Vanderbilt is further leading the nation in personalizing medicine by leveraging its sophisticated Electronic Medical Record (EMR) to use the genotype information in point-of-care decision-making.

“The EMR for each patient is automatically updated to contain the latest genome-based treatment information, so that all healthcare providers at Vanderbilt caring for the patient are fully informed and guided by the latest decision support on these advanced therapies,” said Dan Masys, M.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics.

“We know that genetic differences in humans at the molecular level not only contribute to the disease process, but can also significantly impact an individual’s ability to respond optimally to drug therapy,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We are rapidly expanding our ability to precisely identify genetic differences between patients, and make rational treatment decisions at the bedside.

Through a unique and cohesive set of advances that combine innovations in healthcare informatics, genomics, and drug discovery, we are beginning to ‘deliver’ on the promise of the Human Genome Project, with highly personalized therapy for our patients.”