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There's Good and Bad


Almost nowhere in medicine is the impact of personalized medicine being felt as much as in oncology, says Susan Gilbert, public affairs editor for the nonpartisan research institution the Hastings Center. In an article for the Hastings Report, Gilbert writes that the traditional approach of treating almost all patients with a specific kind of cancer in the same way is giving way to a more "selective approach in which genetic tests are run on tumor samples to identify which patients are likely to benefit from which drugs, or to tell whether they need drugs at all."

While much of personalized cancer care has a scientific basis, much of the decision-making going on between doctor and patient about treatment "requires a giant leap of faith," Gilbert adds. There are a few "crystal balls" in the form of genetic biomarker tests, but they don't always make the choice of treatment simple, she adds. "Thirty years ago we could not find many of the cancers that are diagnosed today, and people died of them. But today millions of people with those cancers receive treatments they do not need," Gilbert says. Despite this, she adds, "Personalized medicine could go a long way to reducing unnecessary care, prolonging quality life, and reducing suffering."

The Scan

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.

Fragile X Syndrome Mutations Found With Comprehensive Testing Method

Researchers in Clinical Chemistry found fragile X syndrome expansions and other FMR1 mutations with ties to the intellectual disability condition using a long-range PCR and long-read sequencing approach.

Team Presents Strategy for Speedy Species Detection in Metagenomic Sequence Data

A computational approach presented in PLOS Computational Biology produced fewer false-positive species identifications in simulated and authentic metagenomic sequences.

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.