Friday, April 27, 2012

The latest coolest thing I've learned at Mayo Clinic

It's been a one heck of week at work. One co-workers is on his way to a Mt Everest base camp. Mayo Clinic is doing research on climbers that will eventually help cardiac failure patients and Joel is in charge of sharing with the rest of the world all of the happenings.

The rest of us were able to hang out with the Dalai Lama (yep, that Dalai Lama). Maybe hanging with the Dalai Lama is an overstatement, but he spoke to many of our employees at a special event.

On Wednesday, I attended a research gathering by the new Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.  I heard about all the different work they are doing involving the humane genome, but one in particular caught my attention. It's call the BEAUTY project and it could make a huge difference in how breast cancer is treated in the future. It will allow physicians to tailor their chemotherapy treatment based on the genomes from the patient and from the tumor. 

Now, I gotta say they were stretching it just a bit (okay, really quite a bit) to get this acronym. BEAUTY stands for the Breast Cancer Genome Guided Therapy Study, but I'll let that pass for now.

We're all different inside and various medications and treatments may cause a bad reaction in one person and then nothing at all in another. But the true coolness of individualized medicine is it would look at who I am and my body chemistry or genetics and provide what would work for me. 

For the BEAUTY project, when a woman is diagnosed with a high-risk cancer, she would be asked if she would like to participate in the study. Before she starts chemotherapy, Mayo Clinic would take some of her healthy cells as well as tumor cells and then sequence the respective genomes. After the patient has gone through chemotherapy, and during surgery to remove the remaining tumor mass, the tumor cells will be sequenced again to evaluate how they've mutated and adapted to chemotherapy.

From the information gathered, researchers hope to be able to predict how one treatment would work better for an breast cancer over a different. In the future, before a patient would begin chemotherapy, the physician would be able to look at the patient's and the tumor's genome and determine what protocol will work best for that patient.

The BEAUTY project won't change how today's patient is treated, but it could change breast cancer treatment in a few years. 

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