How Precision Medicine Works

In 2003, the international scientific community completed the Human Genome Project, a 13-year effort to determine the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up human DNA and map all the genes of the human genome.

In the ensuing decade, our knowledge and skill in this area have exploded. We can now sequence an individual's genome in days. Genetic tests that once took weeks can be done in minutes, and the cost has dropped significantly. By first mapping an individual’s genome, and then mapping the genome of his or her tumor, doctors can see the specific mutations that drive the cancer, and then work to develop a targeted therapy.

Data Changes Everything

The key to effective precision medicine is data. A vast amount of individualized data from hundreds of thousands of patients is required, in order to match all possible genetic abnormalities with their proper treatments.

Because no single institution can handle this task alone, City of Hope has partnered with the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN) which has collected tissue samples and clinical data from over 100,000 patients.

We have also joined NCI-MATCH, a massive National Cancer Institute clinical trial which analyzes patients' tumors to determine whether they contain genetic abnormalities for which targeted therapies already exist.