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Match Cancer Genome to Treatment

Genomic testing of cancer tissues obtained from a biopsy can give clinicians and patients a window into the genetic changes that have occurred in the tumor and, possibly, highlight potential treatments, writes Elaine Schattner at Forbes. However, she notes, such analysis isn't routine and can be difficult to come by.

"Genomic testing of cancer cells seems like it should be available to all patients," Lori Marx-Rubiner, who has metastatic breast cancer and leads the nonprofit Metavivor, which promotes research into metastatic disease, tells Schattner. She adds that she struggled to obtain a biopsy sample for analysis and to get her insurance company to cover the cost.

Testing of cancer cells has been showing, Schattner adds, that there are many molecular subtypes of disease, and despite what organ a tumor cropped up in, if it has, for instance, an ALK mutation, it may be vulnerable to drugs that target that change.

"[Genetic data] may lead us to a trial drug that works, even one that's not usually given for breast cancer," adds Marx-Rubiner, who notes that repeat testing of her tumor may be necessary. "But if they find a mutation and there's a drug that works against it, that would be worth it."

The Scan

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.

Study Examines Relationship Between Cellular Metabolism, DNA Damage Repair

A new study in Molecular Systems Biology finds that an antioxidant enzyme shifts from mitochondria to the nucleus as part of the DNA damage response.

Stem Cell Systems Target Metastatic Melanoma in Mouse Model

Researchers in Science Translational Medicine describe a pair of stem cell systems aimed at boosting immune responses against metastatic melanoma in the brain.

Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Team Introduces Genomic Data Collection, Analytical Tools

A study in Cell Genomics outlines open-source methods being used to analyze and translate whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequence data from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas.