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To Find a New Treatment

With more and more cancers being parsed by their genetic mutations, even oncologists can have a hard time keeping up with the variants and which treatments go with them, the New York Times writes.

"There are so many genes and so many mutations," William Pao from Vanderbilt University tells the Times. "The human brain can't memorize all those permutations." He and some colleagues developed a website called My Cancer Genome to keep all those mutations and drugs straight for doctors and patients. For example, clinicians can search the database, which is maintained by a team of more than 50 people from 20 different institutions, for different cancers and mutations and then for related treatments or drug trials.

As the Times points out, to get to the stage of being able to search for treatments for a specific genetic mutation, that mutation first has to be uncovered, and there are more and more tools to do that, it adds. It highlights Foundation Medicine's $5,800 FoundationOne test that profiles tumor genomes.

Fadi Braiteh at the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada in Las Vegas tells the Times that he has used that test and, while it wasn't helpful for every patient, it did point to a new therapy for a lung cancer patient who was not responding to chemotherapy. "It gave me some guidance," Braiteh said. "We were able to give a drug we've never used before for this mutation."

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