The Promise of Precision Medicine
What is Precision Medicine?
New technologies are enabling researchers to gain a clearer picture of the genetic and biological makeup of cancer cells and the mutations that make them develop. This deeper understanding is helping to build a new framework for cancer research and care that will accelerate the pace of improvement in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of all cancers.
This new framework is known as precision medicine. Precision medicine takes the genetic make-up of each tumour – and the personal characteristics of each patient – into consideration, allowing doctors to provide the right treatment at the right time for each patient, improving survival and quality of life for people living with cancer.
While this new framework holds great potential, it is still in its early days. To make precision medicine a reality, leading researchers, oncologists, and institutions must work together with cancer patients to find new ways to collect and share clinical and genomic data. The creation of a large data set will allow researchers to apply new technologies to pinpoint the Achilles’ heel of each person’s cancer and find the best treatment option to exploit it.
How we can make precision medicine a reality
Unlike current treatments that are one-size fits all, precision medicine targets the unique genetic changes that cause cancer in each individual. It provides the best opportunity to personalize therapies, making sure each patient gets the exact treatment they need at the right time. This will not only make treatments more effective, it will also limit the side-effects currently associated with cancer therapies.
The Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network will make this a reality by allowing top hospitals and cancer research facilities in Canada to share “Big Data” from thousands of patients across the country. This data will then be analyzed using artificial intelligence and other state-of-the-art technologies and methods, allowing researchers to pinpoint exactly how cancers are formed. This new information will be updated in real time; whenever a patient in the network receives a treatment, their genetic data and treatment outcomes will be added to the system, allowing the network to learn and grow, improving outcomes for future patients.
This bold vision will revolutionize cancer treatment for Canadians, establishing our country as a world leader in precision medicine and bringing us closer to achieving Terry’s dream.