Part of what makes cancer so difficult to treat is that no two cases are the same.
Genetics play a huge role in how the disease affects individual patients, meaning what may work for one patient may not necessarily work for others. And with that in mind, doctors around the world have begun looking at the idea of tailoring treatments to be different for each person diagnosed.
But Canadian company Contextual Genomics is taking that idea a step further. It has developed a test where, after sampling a piece of a patient’s tumour, it can churn out results saying which medications are most likely to treat the cancer in question, and which ones won’t. These results, of course, are based on whatever genetics are at play in each case.
“Ten years ago, this would have been science fiction,” President of Contextual Genomics Chris Wagner said. “But today it is actually cost effective to sequence someone’s DNA and looking how we can personalize treatment for it.”
Right now, the commercial test is being done outside of a clinical study and about 1,500 cancer patients will receive it for free. After the pilot project ends, Contextual Genomics plans on offering the test to all patients for about $1,000.
Some doctors are skeptical though. Dr. Steven Narod, a Canada Research Chair in breast cancer and senior scientist at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital, says he’s not entirely convinced that this approach will be effective.
“I am surprised that a company is ready and willing to offer it before we have information to prove this is useful,” he said.
For more information about this new cancer test, check out the video above.