New ways to win the war on cancer include novel methods of diagnosing and treating it. Here’s a look at some developments in the pipeline as well as ones that recently got FDA’s stamp of approval.
- Comprehensive genomic profiling
Comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) tests analyze tumor tissue or blood samples for molecular changes in genes. Using next-generation sequencing technology to analyze DNA mutations, CGP can help match patients to available targeted therapies, immunotherapies, or clinical trial options.
CGP can be used to manage all types of advanced cancer, says Brian Alexander, MD, MPH, chief medical officer of Foundation Medicine, and associate professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School, both based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Unlike single-marker assays that only test for a few cancer driving mutations, CGP can simultaneously test for mutations in hundreds of genes. Foundation Medicine’s FoundationOne CDx test, for example, can screen for changes in more than 300 genes and can match patients to potential targeted therapies, immunotherapies, or clinical trial options based on genomic insights for each individual’s cancer. “Using a single CGP test conserves tissue by avoiding sequential testing and reduces the need to take additional tissue biopsies,” Alexander says.
FoundationOne CDx incorporates multiple FDA-approved companion diagnostics in a single platform to guide personalized treatment decisions. Published studies demonstrate that advanced cancer patients have better outcomes on matched therapies.
- New screening method for prostate cancer
Ezra is a novel artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can aid radiologists in detecting lesions or tumors on the prostate. “It is designed to help radiologists detect prostate cancer with additional accuracy, as well as streamline their workload,” says Azra Raza, MD, professor of medicine, and director of Myelodysplastic Syndrome Center, Columbia University Medical Center, and New York Presbyterian Hospital, both in New York City. “We plan to build additional AI for other organs, and ultimately create technology that can perform a full-body MRI scan.”
Ezra’s engineers created an AI algorithm to detect prostate cancer using MRI images from 346 patients obtained from a cancer imaging archive data portal. The AI uses advanced neural network architecture to learn from a radiologist’s assessment of prostate lesions on MRIs. “The AI can predict lesion locations that could be clinically significant cancers on images that it has not previously seen,” says Raza, who is on the board of medical advisors at Ezra and uses the technology.