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Vol. LXV, No. 11
May 24, 2013

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Therapy Offers Personalized Care for Cancer Patients

Dr. David Sidransky discusses a novel technique, tumor grafting therapy.

Dr. David Sidransky discusses a novel technique, tumor grafting therapy.

In the inaugural lecture of a new series of talks on molecular diagnostics, Dr. David Sidransky of Johns Hopkins University and Hospital discussed results of his research, which included a novel technique: tumor grafting therapy.

Appearing recently before an audience at Lister Hill Auditorium as part of the Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics Lecture Series, Sidransky described how he used tumor grafting therapy to determine the best drug treatment for his patients with advanced cancers. These included colorectal and pancreatic cancer as well as mesothelioma—a cancer of the lining of the body’s organs such as the lungs.

As one example of his technique, he discussed a patient with pancreatic cancer who had a poor prognosis. Using tumor grafting therapy, Sidransky harvested tumor samples from the patient, divided the tumors into segments and grafted them into immune-deficient mice. The mice with the implanted tumor samples were then treated with a panel of drugs. By determining the therapy that was most effective in an individual mouse, he inferred which therapy would be the most effective in treatment of the patient.

Further, tumor samples can be banked and tested again, should a patient have a relapse requiring additional therapy.

“Dr. Sidransky’s talk was timely and marks the beginning of our lecture series that will track and highlight promising developments in the area of molecular markers that may lead to early detection and treatment of cancer,” said Dr. Nada Vydelingum, a program director in the cancer biomarkers research group in NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention. “Every cancer tumor is unique. We know patients with the same type of cancer often react differently to a specific drug—some are helped and others are not. So, using a technique such as tumor grafting therapy offers patients a good chance of receiving the best drug for treatment of their tumor.”

The lecture series recognizes leaders who are making groundbreaking contributions in molecular diagnostics. Among his many honors, Sidransky was named by Time magazine in 2001 as one of the top scientists in the U.S. for his work on early detection of cancer. In addition to being a professor of oncology, otolaryngology, cellular and molecular medicine, urology, genetics and pathology at Johns Hopkins, Sidransky is also director of the head and neck research division at the university.—Linda Perrett

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