No chemo: personalised medicine success story

On Sunday, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) announced results from a nine-year prospective randomised clinical trial of around 10,000 global patients with breast cancer.

Medical researchers used gene sequencing of cancer tumour tissue and a “score” of the expression of 21 genes to rate patients in high, low and intermediate categories. In previous studies, it was shown that the high-risk patients should receive both hormone therapy and chemotherapy and the low risk patients could avoid chemo and only receive hormone treatment. This study showed that among the 70% or so of patients in the intermediate group, those who received chemotherapy had statistically the same survival rate as those who did not receive chemo.

The result is the latest and perhaps the most high-profile example of the application of personalised medicine, i.e. combining genomics and data analytics to treat serious illnesses. In the coming months, treatment plans will literally be re-written to remove unnecessary chemotherapy, thus significantly enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients.

On May 22, following the Federal Budget announcement, ISA welcomed confirmation for funding of “$500 million over ten years for a National Mission to provide a step-change in Australia’s genomics and precision medicine capabilities, catalyse the national innovation culture, and improve the health of all Australians.”

Read more: NEJM / NPR / NPR(2) / ABC / Innovation and Science Australia / ACOLA

Image: Shutterstock – Breast cancer

This story is taken from the 08 June 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.