Ensuring cancer care keeps pace with genomic advances

21 November 2011

Experts at the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia were warned last week that the country’s health system was failing to keep pace with the speed of discovery in genomics.

Speaking at the Annual Scientific Meeting, Dr David Thomas of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne referred to the ‘quantum leap’ in genomics knowledge that had ‘fundamentally changed the paradigm of cancer care’, but warned that: “Obstacles to progress are no longer biotechnological, but relate to our restricted capacity to assess and make use of the knowledge…We need systemic change to create a system that can evolve as rapidly as genomic development so that new research can be integrated more quickly into clinical care".
He called for new interactions between the government, ethics committees, pharmaceutical companies, regulatory bodies, research funding bodies and the public to address this gap.
Meanwhile, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has begun recruitment of cancer patients to trials that form part of their Stratified Medicine Programme, which aims to create a world-class genetic testing service for NHS cancer patients in the UK by identifying genetic tumour features that will allow the use of more effective targeted treatments. However, Director James Peach warned that: "This programme marks the beginning of the journey, and there is much to be done before we can bring the benefits of personalised medicine to every cancer patient".

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