Leicester's Hospitals launching cancer tissue genomic testing for patients with renal cancer
Issued by University Hospitals of Leicester on 9 August
The team are researching whether we can move away from standard treatment for all patients to a much more focussed approach to care which will be specific for each patient. Dr Julian Barwell, Consultant at Leicester's Hospitals and Honorary Professor in Clinical Genetics, explains: "Finding specific weaknesses in an individual's tumour that can be exploited without harming the rest of the body can be incredibly challenging. Understanding how the tumour has developed and is different from other unaffected tissues provides opportunities for more targeted and effective treatments.'
This builds on the work done for Cancer patients as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project, an ambitious initiative which aims to sequence 100,000 complete sets of DNA from around 70,000 NHS patients. By recruiting newly diagnosed cancer patients, scientists will be able to build more detailed understanding of how changes in their DNA affects their susceptibility to disease and response to treatment. This has the potential to benefit patients here in the UK, and could also help in the global fight against cancer.
Previously this research was not possible, the original cost was $2.7 billion, but we can now do it for £1000 per patient. The UK is ahead of the rest of the world in doing genome testing at scale for both cancer and over 200 rare inherited diseases.
The team are hoping to make a major difference to the way cancer treatment is provided. Roger Kockelbergh, Head of Urology at Leicester's Hospitals, explains further: "For patients with cancer there are three things which genome testing can achieve: 1: Detect familial cancer... we already achieve some of this but much is still to be discovered. 2: Detect gene abnormalities which lead to causation and progression of cancer... we already know some of this but we have probably only scratched the surface. 3: To find targets for treatment and offer patients treatment that their tumour genome predicts they will respond to ... we already have a few examples of this, but there are many more to be discovered."
We are looking to invite our first patients to join the testing programme in the next couple of weeks and recruit 500 cancer patients overall. Newly diagnosed cancer patients will be included in the first instance and should talk to their hospital consultant about whether they can take part.