Cancer Genetics and Cancer Care

The more we know about the human genome and in particular the landscape of cancer genomes the more we can improve cancer care.

How can Genetics improve cancer care?

The more we know about the human genome and in particular the landscape of cancer genomes the more we can improve cancer care. During the last two decades there have been enormous advances in the identification of the mutations in cancer genes that drive the growth and spread of tumours. This has resulted in the development of a new generation of anti-cancer drugs called targeted therapies and immunotherapies that target these DNA mutations. The introduction of artificial intelligence will further increase the numbers of targeted agents available.

There are now more than 700 targeted anti-cancer agents available. However, these new drugs will only work if precisely matched to the patient’s tumour by genetic profiling. Every patient’s tumour has a unique combination of DNA mutations and these correspond to a unique set of targeted therapies. This is analogous to a key that will only work in its corresponding lock. Notably everyone’s tumour is different and unique in relation to the different types of DNA mutations that drive the cancer and therefore patients require very different targeted agents to treat their disease. The starting point to identify these new therapeutic opportunities is by genetic profiling. Without cancer genetic profiling these new therapeutic opportunities will remain unidentified for patients.

What is a DNA cancer test?

The Oncofocus® genomic profiling test analyses the DNA and RNA extracted from the routine diagnostic biopsy or alternatively the tissue removed during surgery. The fresh biopsy or surgical material is routinely processed into a paraffin wax block during pathology assessment, a process carried out throughout the world and has been used for over a century in routine pathology diagnosis. These blocks are kept in the archive of the treating hospital and the DNA/RNA in wax is stable for many years. When the Oncofocus test is requested we arrange for these tissue blocks to be sent to Oncologica’s Laboratories in Cambridge for DNA cancer testing. A section is cut from the tissue block, DNA and RNA is extracted and then subjected to DNA/RNA sequencing. Sequencing allows us to read the DNA/RNA code of the tumour resulting in the identification of mutations. A mutation is a change in coding sequence and if identified Oncologica’s bioinformatics platforms can precisely link the mutation to the corresponding targeted therapy-lock and key model.

The test can be requested by the clinician or independently by the patient. Requesting the test does not influence ongoing treatments but identifies new treatment options going forward should conventional treatment protocols prove inadequate. Due to the fact that DNA testing is performed on the biopsy/tissue block no additional biopsies or blood tests are required. All that is needed is the submission of a test request form.

Targeted Therapies Explained

How to get a full Clinical Report?

Following request of the Oncofocus test, Oncologica arranges for the transfer of the routine tumour wax blocks from the treating hospital anywhere in the world to Oncologica’s Laboratories in Cambridge. The biopsy is routinely embedded in a simple wax block for diagnostic reporting by the hospital and stored in the hospital pathology archive. This wax block can be easily transferred from the treating hospital to Oncologica for genetic profiling when a test is requested. No additional blood samples or biopsies are required.

Genetic profiling allows us to link the tumour sample with over 780 modern anti-cancer targeted therapies which enables a much higher chance of successful treatment. The full clinical report is sent to the patient and treating clinician. Following the issuing of the report, Oncologica’s clinical team will discuss the results of the Oncofocus cancer test with the patient and also discuss the report with the Oncologist if required.

The Oncofocus report provides the oncologist with a powerful tool to improve cancer care including detailed information about the underlying cancer genes driving the tumour and the new anti-cancer agents that can be used to halt the disease. Profiling is key to personalised medicine for every patient and understanding the molecular basis for the disease can have a major impact for improving outcomes for all cancer patients.

Understanding the enemy in detail empowers the oncologist and patient with the knowledge to defeat it.

How to order an Oncofocus Cancer Test
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Kitty Williams


“We provide cancer patients with personalised treatment options based on their unique tumour DNA profile

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