Mary Crowley Cancer Research Centers is advancing its research to identify and study more genetic tumor signals and how they may play a role in cancer growth. Increased knowledge about the different signals/mutations within a tumor may help guide physicians to what may be the best treatment combination for a particular patient. Some of the mutated genes may serve as indicators to predict how patients will respond to a specific therapy. The results may one day help Mary Crowley physicians match patients to clinical research trials that target certain molecular pathways in the tumor.
Genomic evaluation of normal tissue and cancer tissue continues to provide insight into these abnormalities, which are commonly referred to as cancer targets. Pharmaceutical companies are already developing targeted or molecularly targeted drugs that block the molecular pathway that gets activated in some of these gene mutations. These therapies are designed to kill cancer cells through multiple mechanisms such as interfering with cell growth signaling, disrupting tumor blood vessel development, promoting the selective death of cancer cells, stimulating the immune system to destroy cancer cells, and delivering toxic drugs selectively to the cancer cells without affecting the patient’s normal cells.