K03 -- January 2010 -- Mapping the Genome
Intro: In 2003 researchers mapped out the first human genome. It led to an explosion of knowledge about why people are different from one another. That meant for the first time doctors could learn more about why one person gets cancer or responds to treatment when another doesn't. Researchers at Mayo Clinic have mapped out the genome of a woman with multiple myeloma. And the information from her has prompted them to change the way they treat patients with this deadly cancer.
IT TOOK ONE OF THE WORLD'S FASTEST SUPERCOMPUTERS AN ENTIRE WEEK TO MAP OUT ROSE ELLEN HELEY'S GENOME.
"THIS IS ME. JUST THE WAY IT IS. I HAVE GREAT HOPES FOR IT."
ROSE ELLEN HAS MULTIPLE MYELOMA. A CANCER OF THE BONE MARROW. DR. KEITH STEWART MAPPED OUT ROSE ELLEN'S GENOME IN HOPES OF FINDING OUT WHY HER MYELOMA KEPT COMING BACK. WHAT HE FOUND WAS SURPRISING.
"TRADITIONALLY WE ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT THE CANCER MUTATED THAT IT WAS ONE CANCER THAT MUTATED IN RESPONSE TO TREATMENT OVER TIME AND BECAME DRUG RESISTANT. IN FACT, WHAT WE'RE FINDING IS NOT THAT AT ALL."
INSTEAD, IT LOOKS LIKE THE ORIGINAL CANCER VANISHES AFTER THE NORMAL REGIMEN OF CHEMOTHERAPY. BUT THEN A DIFFERENT CANCER POPS UP. YOU CAN SEE IN THIS DIAGRAM THAT ROSE ELLEN'S ORIGINAL CANCER LOOKS GENETICALLY DIFFERENT FROM HER RELAPSE.
"AND IT TELLS US, FOR EXAMPLE, INSTEAD OF USING ONE DRUG WHICH MIGHT HIT ONE VERSION OF THE CANCER, WE PROBABLY HAVE TO USE MULTIPLE DRUGS TO GET IT, TO HIT AS MANY AS POSSIBLE IF WE HOPE TO CURE IT."
MULTIPLE DRUGS TO HOPEFULLY ELIMINATE THE ORIGINAL CANCER AS WELL AS OTHERS THAT MAY COME UP LATER AND CAUSE RELAPSES.
"WHAT WE'RE LOOKING AT HERE IS ONE SMALL REGION OF THE HUMAN GENOME THAT WE'RE INTERESTED IN."
AND WITHIN THAT REGION AND THE REST OF THE GENOME IS INFORMATION THAT WILL HELP DOCTORS TAILOR TREATMENT FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL PATIENT – NOT JUST FOR CANCER, BUT FOR MANY MEDICAL ISSUES.
"I THINK THE KEY MESSAGE IS THAT WE'RE HEADING TO AN ERA OF INDIVIDUALIZED MEDICINE WHICH MEANS THAT WE'RE GOING TO USE GENETIC INFORMATION FROM EACH INDIVIDUAL TO DETERMINE WHAT DRUGS TO USE, WHEN TO USE THEM AND WHAT COMBINATION TO USE, NOT JUST IN CANCER, BUT I THINK EVENTUALLY IN HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES AND OTHER PROBLEMS."
ROSE ELLEN'S GENOME HELPING TO SAVE LIVES.
"TO ME IT'S SO AWESOME THAT IT REALLY DOESN'T SINK IN."
FOR MEDICAL EDGE, I'M VIVIEN WILLIAMS.
Anchor tag:Dr. Stewart says there are still vast amounts of information to learn from mapping the human genome. And every day, new discoveries are made.
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