Precision Diagnostics In Cancer: Predict, Prevent, And Personalize

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Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science


In the past two decades since the first sequencing of the human genome, clinical genomics has undergone a renaissance with the advent of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. Whole genome sequencing is now increasingly available in the clinical setting at a fraction of the cost of the human genome reference sequence, and with turnaround times as short as 7–10 days. Clinical genetics-based management has become more tractable with improved payer reimbursement and increased availability of targeted therapies, especially in the oncology space. Precision diagnostics in cancer allow clinicians to assess a patient's risk of developing cancers, detect and classify tumors, predict prognoses, select targeted therapies when available, and monitor their patient's disease burden longitudinally. This approach ushers in a new era of predictive and preventive oncology care that can be personalized to the genetics of the individual patient, the patient's tumor, and their clinical presentation. Within oncology, there are global collaborative efforts including the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) that have archived thousands of cancer genomes. In collaboration with databases including but not limited to cancer cataloging variant association with disease risk (ClinVar and others) and drug responses (PharmGKB and others), the study of somatic and germline genomic variation provides a wealth of information on cancer development, evolution, heterogeneity, and treatment response. Although many challenges still exist for defining all possible actionable genomic variants, we have unprecedented opportunity to gain mechanistic and clinical insights into human neoplastic diseases.

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