Since mid-2018, the Neurosurgical Oncology team has collected brain tumor samples for genetic analysis from all consenting patients.
The goal is to tailor treatment specifically to the individual patient through precision medicine, while also learning about the nature of these tumors for the benefit of future patients. Everyone has a slightly different tumor and responds to therapy in a different way, which makes treatment challenging. However, technology is changing that right now.
In some cases, genetic testing reveals a tumor type with a known treatment. Sometimes patients are a match for an ongoing clinical trial. For others, the researchers use these samples to grow more cells in the lab and test different compounds on the unique tumor types in the search for new therapies. Pharmacologists at UAMS assist the researchers in developing the specific compounds.
These results are being compiled and analyzed with the help of the UAMS Department of Biomedical Informatics. As trends emerge from the massive amounts of data, more patients will gain access to personalized treatment solutions based upon the specific characteristics and genetics of their tumor. The data analysis is also helping the researchers understand how these tumors form in the first place, providing an additional means of prevention in the future.
Scientists have long had ideas of how personalized medicine might look in the neurosurgical oncology setting. The patient takes a genetic test, perhaps from a sample of their tumor or maybe even a blood test, and those genetic results determine the best treatment. Each patient can benefit from their own unique blend of surgery, medicine and radiation/chemotherapy.