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'Learning Vast Amounts'

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Harpal Kumar, the chief of charity Cancer Research UK, says that our understanding of the disease is advancing "exponentially," and that it is now a "golden era" of cancer research that could revolutionize treatment and reduce the cost of cancer therapies, reports the Guardian's Sarah Boseley. The UK's Department of Health and Cancer Research UK have partnered to back several trials to genetically test the tumors of 9,000 newly diagnosed patients, in seven hospitals across Britain. The trials aim to find out which existing cancer drugs work best with different cancers, and may start researchers thinking about new treatments that can be tailored to each person depending on the disease's genetic makeup, Boseley says. "I'm not trying to present a utopian view that we know everything, because we don't," Kumar says, adding, "We are learning vast amounts more as months go by." He says that genetic testing and personalized medicine is the future of cancer treatment and medicine in general. In addition, creating drugs for specific targets and subgroups of patients instead of large populations could bring the prices of the treatments down. "If we get this right, it changes the entire dynamics of the business model of the pharmaceutical industry," Kumar says.

The Scan

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