This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 12, 2012

Beating Cancer with Genetics

Friday night in the United States, we saw a special television show for the benefit of Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) ( During this event, we saw people who, due to leading-edge science, recovered from Stage 4 cancers to lead vibrant, healthy lives, thanks to groundbreaking developments in advanced cancer therapies.

SU2Cís groups of researchers are called "Dream Teams"; one Dream Team is working on metastatic melanoma, the most serious of all skin cancers. Metastatic melanoma refers to a cancer that has spread from the skin to other parts of the body, most frequently the lungs, muscle, and liver. Almost half of all metastatic melanoma patients have an alteration in a particular gene called BRAF. For this group, there are promising treatment options that directly target that specific alteration. However, for those metastatic melanoma patients who do not have the BRAF alteration, there had been no hope. Enter SU2C.

Recent advances in the knowledge of human genetics have enabled this Dream Team to consider a new epigenetic approach to the treatment of cancer. This approach involves the study of a patient's "genome", the entire set of 3.1 billion genetic instructions found in a cell---the individual's DNA sequence. Their ability to examine the changes in the genome of a cancer patient is better than ever before, both in terms of speed and cost. This development sequences the DNA of the entire genome far less expensively and with far greater accuracy than ever before. The Team calls what they do: "Using molecular signatures in targeted therapy for Melanoma". This therapy works by matching a known, effective, cancer-beating agent to a specific person's genome.

The hope and expectation are that this "personalized medicine" approach will lead to more effective and lasting treatments and potentially spare patients from unnecessary, expensive, and highly toxic treatments that all too often do not work. With 70,000 new cases of Melanoma reported in the US annually and over 8,000 deaths attributed annually to this disease, there will be no shortage of people lining up to participate in their clinical trials.

We are only scratching the surface of the modern miracles that personalized medicine will bring. Look at the Science tab on the Stand Up 2 Cancer @ We know you will be impressed. We will cover more of this research during the year, space permitting.

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