New Cancer Panel at UW Hospital and Clinics Personalizes Treatment

Madison, Wisconsin - University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics has adopted a new technology that has the potential to help physicians tailor and individualize treatment for cancers patients.


The hospital's Clinical Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory introduced a new cancer gene mutation panel that is able to simultaneously analyze 50 cancer-related genes using next generation DNA sequencing. Before the new technology, each of the 50 genes was sequenced one at a time. The testing turnaround for one gene was about two weeks, the time it now takes to test all 50 genes using this new method.


"In my mind, this is a revolutionary technology. This is something that will change the way lab medicine is done, not just for today, but in the future," said William Rehrauer, Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory Director.


Tests are run on tissues that are cancerous. In order to personalize treatment there needs to be a better understanding of the unique features of each patient's cancer. Dustin Deming, an oncologist at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, says currently genetic alterations assist with developing treatment regimens for lung, breast, melanoma, and colorectal cancers, among others.


"Our hope is that as mutation profiling becomes more routine, continued advances will be made to fundamentally change the way in which cancer is treated to a more personalized approach," said Deming.


The removed tissue is sent to the pathology lab and the results will dictate the cancer treatment options. The absence or presence of genetic alterations can be vital to diagnostics and information on tumor development and progress. Most significantly, it can provide valuable insight into the potential responsiveness or unresponsiveness of various therapeutic options.


"Through increased mutation profiling we will be better able to develop treatment regimens for each individual patient based on the mutation profile of their cancer. At the UW Carbone Cancer Center, we are developing novel strategies to treat patients based on the mutation profile of their cancer using standard and experimental therapies," said Deming.


A number of large commercial and academic hospitals labs offer this service, but for the first time University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics will have this technology available on site, so samples will not have to be sent to an outside reference lab. According to Rehrauer, the implementation of this cutting edge technology will provide a greater breadth of information in a shorter period of time using much less samples with much greater efficiency.


"There will be a learning curve, but we know as this evolves it will be a great benefit to cancer patients. If we can find the mutation and work with the doctors to see what drugs work, that will really change the landscape of cancer treatment," said Rehrauer.


The planning for this technology began over two-and- a-half years ago, and right now the lab is working with over 100 patients. Rehrauer's hope is to keep growing and learning.


"Moving forward we will continually evaluate and adopt new technologies that would provide more information to our clinicians and as a result have a greater positive impact on our patients lives," said Rehrauer.

Date Published: 08/15/2014

News tag(s):  cancer

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