Clinical OMICS

JAN-FEB 2019

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 45 of 51

44 Clinical OMICs January/February 2019 I n November 2018, the FDA approved the second drug for treatment based on a common biomarker found in a variety of cancer types rather than on the location of the tumor in the body. The drug, called Vitrakvi or larotrectinib, was approved simultaneously for use in children and adults, unlike most oncology drugs. Research- ers estimate that only 1% of solid tumors have the mutation, called NTRK gene fusion, which is a hybrid of two genes that can promote uncontrolled cell growth. That kind of targeted therapy is expensive, in this case costing approximately $32,800 per month for adults and $11,000 per month for children. Still, this is the kind of precision medicine that was promised by the Human Genome Project and the tech- nological advances that have been made since. But, will sampling bias in genetic data and the lack of diversity in clinical trials mean these kinds of breakthroughs will help only white patients? Latrice Landry, Ph.D., is concerned that the lack of diversity in genomic databases will be a barrier to translating precision medicine research into practice—and, in fact, will widen existing health disparities. "Across the whole field of genetics we don't have a very diverse body of evidence for our biomarkers for disease, or how we trans- late them. This may be problematic for precision medicine, or the clinical translation of our genetic findings," said Landry, a clinical genetics fellow at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Landry spends her time interpreting genetic test results, which are then given to phy- sicians to share with patients. In May 2018, she and her colleagues published a paper in Precision Medicine in which they examined the populations included in genomic studies whose data were available in the Genome-Wide Association Study Catalog and the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes. The group found significantly fewer studies of African, Latina American, and Asian ancestral populations in comparison to Camille Mojica Rey, Ph.D. Contributing Editor The Case for Equity in Clinical Genomics and Research Precision All for elenabs / iStock / Getty Images

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