15:18 30 January 2013
Decoding the entire DNA of a cancer cell is now easier compared ten years ago. DNA sequencing is thought to be the key in diagnosing and treating cancer.
The Institute of Cancer Research will use information in cancer DNA in order to tailor-made cancer drugs based on the individual DNA mutations of cancer patients. The centre is also expected to look into reasons as to why certain cancer cells become resistant to drugs.
The ICR's director, Prof Alan Ashworth, told the BBC: "None of this is science fiction. This is now happening.
“We think we're pioneering the clinical application of this by setting up the Tumour Profiling Unit, but one would think this would be absolutely routine practice for every cancer patient - and that's what we're aiming to bring about."
One great challenge with cancer treatment is resistance. Drugs that were thought to be promising suddenly fail after months of use. The Tumour Profiling Unit will investigate to understand this by repeatedly testing cancer samples to identify changes in tumour.
However, implementing the new genetic testing can be challenging for NHS. The test results must be made available to doctors in order for them to quickly interpret and decide on the treatments.
The government announced that up to 100,000 patients in England who are suffering from cancer and other rare diseases will have their entire genetic code sequenced to aid research.
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