Emerging Breakthroughs in Cancer Care: Toward a Revolution?

Oncology & Biotech News, April 2014, Volume 8, Issue 4

In Partnership With:

Partner | Cancer Centers | <b>John Theurer Cancer Center, Hackensack University Medical Center</b>

Medicine is undergoing a revolution that will transform the practice of healthcare, including oncology.

Andre Goy, MD

Editor-in-Chief of

Oncology & Biotech News

Chairman and Director Lymphoma Division Chief John Theurer Cancer Center at HackensackUMC Chief Science Officer and Director of Research and Innovation Regional Cancer Care Associates Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University

Medicine is undergoing a revolution that will transform the practice of healthcare, including oncology.

The palpable excitement generated by everything happening in cancer care is also associated with a sense of anxiety and uncertainty, given the complexity of the disease and current landscape. How and will the changing medical landscape alter our practice? Will the current changes in the economics of medicine allow us to move toward more complex but rationale therapeutics?

The Human Genome Project transformed biology through its integrated Big Science approach, combining the expertise of engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians, with biologists. The Human Genome Project has already revolutionized many fields of science, including microbiology, virology, infectious disease, plant biology, and cancer. On the other hand, the mounting evidence of the diversity and adaptability of cancer is daunting and makes us question how we will be able to truly develop precision medicine in oncology.

The emergence of systems biology will likely radically transform our current paradigms. Systems biology represents an experimental approach that attempts to study biological systems in a holistic manner—ie, through global, integrative and dynamic analyses of systems and diseases. Systems medicine aims at integrating multiscale biological information into predictive and actionable models that will help reshape our perception, understanding, and treatment of diseases, including cancer.

In the foreseeable future, clinicians, researchers, and ultimately, consumers and patients, will be increasingly equipped with a deluge of personal health information— from biomarkers of disease behavior, to disease risk, and eventually, P4 medicine (predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory)—through the proactive participation from all major stakeholders in the healthcare system. In cancer, systems biology integrated with novel computational techniques will help dissect processes and causal factors involved in cancer development, progression, and response to therapies.

The ultimate best stratification of patients with cancer (one size does not fit all) and development of rationale therapeutics should be and will be our mantra for years to come. Knowledge is the best medicine. Along these lines, our Emerging Technology Symposium at the John Theurer Cancer Center on May 12 will describe in more details how systems biology is changing and will transform cancer care!