Thursday, April 23, 2015

Live from #PCTUS: Redefining Clinical Trials in the Age of Personalized Medicine

In this morning session, Donald Jones, Chief Digital Officer at Scripps Translational Science Institute led a thought provoking keynote panel discussion titled, "Redefining Clinical Trials in the Age of Personalized Medicine". Donald was joined by Isan Chen, Chief Medical & Development Officer at Mirati Therapeutics, Erynn Gordon, Medical Marketing Director at 23andMe, Niven R Narain, Co-Founder, President & Chief Technology Officer at Berg Health, and Wendy Levin, VP of Clinical Development at Fate Therapeutics, Inc. These industry leaders went back and forth discussing the future of medicine in regards to personalized medicine, their work, and where this is leading us.

Below are the key takeaways from this discussion...

The concept of personalized medicine makes one think that it should be patient specific. However, it can also be about the whole. According to global epidemiology, 600,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed every year and as baby boomers reach retirement age, this cancer explosion is expected to continue to rise.

With the data about expected cases readily available, how do we stop it? Since disease does not happen overnight, it is about identifying the patient population and understanding the full story; everything from sleep patterns, lifestyle choices, exercise history, area of residence, etc... Fundamentally, this collected data would be used to create a map on each and every patient - much like a map of airline routes. By developing these molecular maps, we can identify what is governing the healthy and correspond that with the disease population in order to identify where things have gone array.

So the goal now begins to shift towards, patient prediction. The model needs to be changed so we are no longer reacting to symptoms, but shift the paradigm to being proactive to improve overall health. Erynn Gordon used a specific example from her work at 23andMe and said; A family with a history of pancreatic cancer all seemed to have a specific genetic variant - in their massive genetic database, 127 others carried the exact same variant. 23andMe surveyed these 127 individuals about their family history of pancreatic cancer, cancer in general, and more (as well as 10,000 others as a control) and overnight were able to conclude that the specific genetic variant that this family carried had no connection to pancreatic cancer.

Tests/work like this are helping us shift towards preventative treatment rather than treatment to curve the diseases progression.

The final point brought up what by Wendy Levin and it was about comparative oncology; which provides opportunities to include naturally occurring cancer models in the study of cancer biology and therapy. The comparative oncology tests are done with companion animals with naturally occurring diseases rather than mice who have the diseases artificially implanted - there are 72 million companion animals in the US and they are susceptible to these naturally occurring cancers, and we want to cure these diseases in our pets. In that treatment process, we incorporate the success rates within the samples into new drug development and clinical trials.

Thank you for following along with PCT 2015 & stay tuned for more updates and recaps from Partnerships in Clinical Trials.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @PartnershipCROs and tracking all on site activity with #PCTUS

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