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Inside the Lab Precision medicine, Biochemistry and molecular biology, Oncology, Omics

The Promise of Precision Profiling

Precision medicine is an increasingly common buzzword in healthcare – but what does it mean to pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals? How does it affect the patients who seek out molecular profiling – whether for cancer treatment, pharmacogenomics, or other reasons? And what is its outlook in the near future and beyond? Three experts gather to discuss molecular pathology, precision oncology, and the future of diagnostic and prognostic medicine.

What is your background in precision medicine – and how do you use it in your work?
Marc Peeters: Over the years, my profession as an oncologist has changed dramatically. At the beginning of my career, we were happy to have any drugs at all to treat our patients. Nowadays, it’s a question of selecting which of a wide array of drugs will be best for each individual patient.

Certain types of tumors have a limited number of biomarkers that we routinely test for treatment selection. In other cases, we’re searching for a solution for patients who have become resistant to standard lines of treatment. We need biomarker information to locate clinical trials or explore drugs that, although not indicated in the patient’s tumor type, might yield a response in that specific patient based on their biomarker profile. At the moment, we don’t fully profile every patient at my institution (beyond the routine testing); it’s reserved for those who have exhausted the standard options. Smaller sets of biomarkers are tested if they are clearly linked to a registered (and thus reimbursed) drug.

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About the Author

Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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