Personalized medicine: Taubman Scholar Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan weighs in on cancer treatment potential

Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan, director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology and a Taubman Scholar, was quoted on Feb. 16 in a Detroit News article about the prospects for personalized cancer treatment: 


(Dr. Chinnaiyan) is working to develop new molecular tests and therapeutics for human diseases, with a focus on cancer.

Not all patients respond to conventional treatments, so when they reach advanced stages of cancer they are enrolled in a clinical sequencing program.

Since 2011, U-M has sequenced 150 adult patients and 15 children, Chinnaiyan said. The six-week process sequences the cancer tumor along with normal tissue and compares them.

"We're trying to figure out what mutations have occurred in the patient's tumor relative to the normal genome," Chinnaiyan said. "We analyze the data in the context of the mutation to see if there are any clinical trials that might be appropriate or approved drugs that might work."

A small percentage of patients fit the criteria for clinical trials or approved drugs, and an even smaller percentage will respond. But early research has offered some success stories that will be published in academic journals in the near future.

"Patients who have failed conventional therapies are looking for options," Chinnaiyan said.

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