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Barriers and Promise

The main stumbling blocks to moving next-gen sequencing advances to the clinic are generating data that show the clinical benefits of such tests and convincing payors to cover those tests, Washington University in St. Louis' Elaine Mardis tells Biome, the BioMed Central blog, in a Q&A.

At the same time, Mardis adds that pharmaceutical companies and the US Food and Drug Administration need to change how conduct clinical trials are conduction and how drugs are approved so that cancer patients can benefit more quickly from advances.

In terms of sequencing technologies that hold promise for detecting cancer early, Mardis tells Biome that circulating tumor cell and nucleic acid sequencing have potential. Additionally, she notes that individualized immunotherapies based therapies are also an exciting step.

"I think this area holds great promise and uses our genomics capabilities in an entirely new and exciting way," she tells Biome.