Cracking the Code Advances in Genetic Testing Allow for More Personalized Medical Treatments

Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), June 28, 2012 | Go to article overview

Cracking the Code Advances in Genetic Testing Allow for More Personalized Medical Treatments


"Without question, man's knowledge of man is undergoing the greatest revolution since Leonardo. In many ways personalized medicine is already here."

That quote, from Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, was used at the beginning of a report on genetic testing by UnitedHealth Group's Center for Health Reform & Modernization.

The report, "Personalized Medicine: Trends and prospects for the new science of genetic testing and molecular diagnostics," was released in March.

For the paper, the organization surveyed the public on their familiarity with genetic testing. While 71 percent said they were familiar with the concept, only one in two indicated they were knowledgable about genetic science.

So the Los Angeles News Group spoke with doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to shed light on this rapidly evolving field of health care.

Genetic testing analyzes a person's genetic material, including genes and biomarkers. While a person's complete DNA can be decoded, a process called whole genome sequencing, researchers don't know how to interpret all of the information quite yet. Currently, tests can be used to detect 2,500 conditions, according to UnitedHealth.

"The whole genetic testing story is linked to an entire paradigm in medicine that is evolving, and that is personalized medicine," says Dr. Mahul Amin, chairman of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Cedars-Sinai and the institutional leader for the hospital's personalized medicine initiative.

Amin's research focuses on uncovering biomarkers for cancer - particularly of the prostate, bladder, kidney and testis - that will allow for personalized treatment of patients with these diseases.

A biomarker is a biochemical, genetic or molecular characteristic that acts as an indicator of a particular biological condition.

Genetic testing is not only done on a human's DNA, but also on the genetics of a tumor, which helps doctors detect the tumor's aggressiveness - how fast it is growing or will grow, and why.

A third aspect of genetic testing is based on understanding the genetic code of a person to determine whether certain drugs will or won't work on that individual patient, and at what dose a medication should be given, says Amin.

"You can do genetic testing at a patient level and that is to understand the genetic makeup and susceptibility to disease. That's the first part," Amin says.

"Or you can understand the genetic susceptibility to drugs and that is called pharmacal genomics. Then you can do the testing for the tumor and that is to find new aspects of treatment so you can take care of the disease in a much more effective way."

Dr. Ora Karp Gordon is the director for Cedars-Sinai's GenRISK Adult Genetics Program, which specializes in identifying genetic risk factors for common diseases in adults such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Gordon considers herself a preventionist, or the final frontier in preventive medicine.

Most people who come to GenRISK have a strong family history of cancer or other hereditary diseases.

"Of all common cancers,about 10 percent of them are hereditary," Gordon says. "Breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancers all have this underlying genetic component which in some families can be identified before somebody has ever gotten cancer."

The most common example the public is familiar with are the breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Mutations of these genes are linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. So if someone with a family history of breast cancer wants to take precautionary measures, a test can be administered before any sign of cancer appears.

It's important to note that just because a person has the mutation, it doesn't mean the cancer will manifest, rather it means there is a genetic predisposition to the disease.

"You can have a high-risk gene like a BRCA gene or a gene for colon cancer or pancreatic cancer and go your whole life and never manifest cancer," Gordon says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Cracking the Code Advances in Genetic Testing Allow for More Personalized Medical Treatments
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.