Translational Cancer Research
Over the past few years genotype-guided therapy is becoming a reality in cancers such as breast, melanoma, NSCLC and colorectal cancer where treatment choice is based on molecular diagnostic tests that identify drug targets or biomarkers of response/resistance. This approach holds great promise but is challenging to implement in cancers such as pancreatic cancer, which are heterogeneous and have numerous molecular phenotypes at low frequency.
Our work is aimed at developing approaches to apply and test personalised medicine strategies based on genomic sequence data. Potentially rapid gains can be made through matching genetic aberrations with sensitivity to therapy by a specific drug, and then testing efficacy when used in the correct context, that is, the presence of the target for which the drug was made.
Next-generation sequencing technologies make it possible to undertake genetic testing of tumour DNA across many genes and pathways, whether or not there are known candidate aberrations. As co-Leads of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Initiative, part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium, Andrew Biankin and Sean Grimmond and their teams have used these technologies to sequence ~400 pancreatic cancers. Their goal is to identify those patients who harbour specific mutations that render their tumour potentially sensitive to a particular drug.
During 2013 Andrew Biankin, David Chang and Sean Grimmond relocated from Australia to the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre. The vision of this new centre is to accelerate scientific discoveries into patient care for cancer, with a particular focus on genotype-guided (personalised) cancer care.