NOV 09, 2017 7:44 AM PST

Tailoring Treatment With Genome Sequencing

Glioblastoma is an aggressive form cancer that has a meager survival rate. Sadly, despite hundreds of research studies, no fully effective treatment options have been found. New research from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) at UC San Francisco has found that RNA and DNA sequencing of tumors could offer some hope to patients who have been diagnosed with this form of brain cancer.

By detailing the RNA and DNA of a particular tumor, much information can be gained. Precision medicine, where each patient's treatment is tailored genetically to their specific disease is at the forefront of glioblastoma research. In the study conducted at TGen, 16 patients had their tumors mapped, down to its particular genetic code. The information gained in that mapping was then passed on to the patient's oncology team so they could render "informed treatment." Informed treatment means that the doctors have a wealth of details on the type of tumor and can fight it with better options.

Dr. Sara Byron, Research Assistant Professor in TGen's Integrated Cancer Genomics Division and the study's lead author, explained, "To our knowledge, this is the first report of a prospective profiling study in recurrent glioblastoma to show patients with extended time to progression following treatment with genomics-informed therapy. This is a primary example of the benefits of genomics-driven precision medicine being applied for patients with aggressive and refractory tumors."

With glioblastomas, not only are they aggressive, but they are usually located deep in the brain tissue and accessing them surgically is not always possible. Surgeons must decide how much surrounding tissue can be removed without further endangering the patient. Even if a tumor is partially removed, and chemo and radiation are used, most glioblastoma tumors come back.

Like anything, the timing is crucial. Not only must the tumor be genetically mapped, but the patient's entire genome must be as well. Only then can the doctors look at the genes and figure out the best way to fight it. There are 20,000 genes in the human genome, so it's no easy task to sort them all out. In the study at TGen, the analysis and recommendations were carried out in less than 35 days after the surgery which is a "clinically acceptable time frame" according to the researchers.

Of the patients who received this genetically tailored treatment, two of them experienced more than a year with no tumor recurrence and no new tumor growth. One of those two was a patient whose tumor had recurred. After the first round of treatment for this patient, recurrence happened about seven months after the initial surgery. With the informed treatment, survival for this patient was progression-free for 21 months.

Finding effective drugs is another concern for glioblastoma patients. The blood-brain barrier keeps toxic agents away from the brain, but then lifesaving cancer drugs cannot get through. Having more genetic information on a patient means that drugs can be better matched to the specific tumor's genetic code. Only three medications, temozolomide, nitrosoureas, and bevacizumab, are FDA approved for this form of brain cancer. The video below has more information on this new approach to glioblastoma treatment, take a look.

Sources: Journal Clinical Cancer Research, UPI, Translational Genomics Research Institute

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
OCT 22, 2020
Immunology
Migraines: Dark Times and (Pharmaceutical) Rays of Hope
OCT 22, 2020
Migraines: Dark Times and (Pharmaceutical) Rays of Hope
Despite being commonly used interchangeably, headaches and migraines are worlds apart. Migraines are by far much more pr ...
NOV 01, 2020
Neuroscience
High Fat Diet Could Prevent Anorexia Deaths
NOV 01, 2020
High Fat Diet Could Prevent Anorexia Deaths
Researchers from Yale University have homed in on a specific kind of neuron that appears to play a sizable role in fatal ...
NOV 17, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Why Mutations in RRP7 Cause a Congenital Brain Disorder
NOV 17, 2020
Why Mutations in RRP7 Cause a Congenital Brain Disorder
A large family with some members that have a rare brain disorder has helped scientists learn more about both brain devel ...
JAN 01, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Common Brain Disorder Has a Genetic Influence
JAN 01, 2021
Common Brain Disorder Has a Genetic Influence
It's thought that as many as one in one hundred people are born with a brain disorder known as Chiari 1 malformation, bu ...
JAN 01, 2021
Cardiology
Blood Vessel Damage Caused by COVID-19 Disrupts Brain
JAN 01, 2021
Blood Vessel Damage Caused by COVID-19 Disrupts Brain
Scientists have been trying to determine if the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects brain cells directly, or if the virus severely ...
JAN 24, 2021
Neuroscience
Is Parkinson's Disease Linked to Gut Fungi?
JAN 24, 2021
Is Parkinson's Disease Linked to Gut Fungi?
Studies show an association between the gut microbiome and Parkinson's disease. Up until now, though, no studies had ...
Loading Comments...