Cancer Gene Sequencing: Match Making In The 21st Century

There is certainly great promise in gene sequencing, however, I like to compare it to online dating (something that I am sadly too familiar with) in that it's a useful tool, not a magic wand.

Cancer Gene Sequencing: Match Making In The 21st Century

It’s easy to find people with the same interests or with the features that fit my picture. But in most cases, the people I meet either appear differently (20 year old photo, 100 pounds later) or act differently (mood swings that make the final scene in The Perfect Storm look placid). The key to progress, in both cases, is the use of AI generated and informed algorithms that are predictive.

Searching for a reliable relationship

It's easy to sequence… and to raise the hope of people who pay for sequencing centers (or dating sites). And it's not surprising to see more sequencing as the required time and cost makes it more accessible.

The challenge addressed in recent articles is how to organize information on disease progression (mutational heterogeneity) so that targets for development and treatment can be more reliably linked to better outcomes. This is precisely what we want to do for the most devastating tumors and associated genetic/biological mechanisms.

Finding the right match by sharing and comparing

The articles also point out what a great thing it is to be able to share data, however, it doesn’t seem to be happening with any great frequency. All I read about is how every cancer group is independently spending money on sequencing and searching for predictive pathways without a clue or care about who else is doing what...

Wouldn’t it make more sense to do a kind of speed-dating exercise? Sharing data would allow for a faster and larger view with relevant comparisons. People who have tumors, with the HH pathway and mutational variations, could be compared with each other as well as with people who have identifiable mutations linked to primary tumors. Wouldn’t data sharing reveal more? And couldn’t it help us find what we’re looking for without wasting precious time and money?

By Robert M. Goldberg, PhD

July 19, 2013

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