The Dawn of Personalized Oncology
Wherever I go, someone invariably asks, "Have we really made any progress against cancer?" My answer is, We definitely have - we have made tremendous progress.
I go on to explain how much more we know today than we did just a decade or two ago. We know that the tumor has a very significant and critical microenvironment in which it grows; that the normal-appearing cells of this microenvironment are genetically reprogrammed to support the growing tumor in the critical steps of invasion and metastasis. We know much more about mutations, changes in gene copy number, translocations, the re-expression of genes involved in embryogenesis, and the epigenetic suppression of other genes - and how these changes lead to the growth and spread of cancer.
This new knowledge is being determined and catalogued at a stunning rate, led by our research efforts in functional biology and by our work in genomics and transcriptional regulation. In addition, whole-genome scans that define regions associated with cancer risk are being identified, fine mapped, and sequenced. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project is actively sequencing actual patient tumors and finding new gene alterations associated with a specific cancer's development. Read more
Mobilizing National Drug Discovery
NCI's proposed Chemical Biology Consortium (CBC) will establish an integrated network of chemical biologists, molecular oncologists, and compound screening centers from government, academia, and eventually from industry. The program is being developed by NCI's Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD), in conjunction with NCI's Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and the NCI Director's office, to facilitate the discovery and development of new agents to treat cancer.
"The long-term vision of the CBC is to bridge the gap between basic scientific findings - for example, The Cancer Genome Atlas and genome-wide association studies - and NCI-supported clinical research," noted DCTD Director Dr. James Doroshow.
Dr. Barbara Mroczkowski, special assistant to the DCTD director, is a project lead for CBC. She came to NCI after 15 years in industry. Read more