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Meet Annie Martin, Global Head of Presicion Medicine

With the advancement of molecular technologies such as RNA and DNA sequencing, It is easier now, more than ever, to genomically profile patients’ tumors. As such, the insights that we have gained have allowed us not only to understand the biology of the disease, but also to identify those critical biomarkers that are truly driving the patient’s cancer. As a result of this, we’ve been able to develop many targeted therapies that help to treat the patient’s cancer. And so genomic profiling helps positions to make decisions about what course of treatment a patient should be on. We’ve learned over recent years that because of genomic profiling diseases such as lung cancer are actually made up of more than 12 different molecular subtypes and as a result of this a number of therapies directed at specific subtypes have been developed. But genomic profiling is helping us identify other molecular subtypes within other diseases such as in breast cancer, melanoma, colorectal cancer, and in heme malignancies such as AML and CML. It’s hoped that through the work that’s been done through the Cancer Genome Atlas, as well as in other collaborative genome profiling initiatives that actually we will learn that every cancer can be characterized with molecular subtypes and direct us to what we can do in the future in developing new medicines. The future looks great. Advancement of technologies and particularly the sensitivity of these technologies is allowing us not only to identify these alterations in a patient tumor sample, but also in blood-based liquid biopsy samples. The reason that this is important is that especially in situations where patients’ diseases advanced or if their tumor is hard to access we can still look for these alterations in a simple blood draw. In addition to this, liquid biopsies are very useful in the early stages of a patient’s disease as well as to monitor cancer patients so that we can understand the reasons a cancer is progressing and how best to treat the patient.

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