Personalized Medicine: Old Tradition, New Tools

Volume 2, Issue 2, 2013


Mayo Clinic has been bringing personalized medicine to its patients for nearly 150 years.

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center director Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

Physicians at Mayo Clinic have provided personalized medicine to patients for nearly 150 years. Recent advances in our understanding of genetics and disease at the molecular level are now fueling research that is creating new knowledge and new therapies to continue that tradition.

Today, we increasingly use DNA from tumor cells to search for genetic patterns to help improve our understanding of how cancer behaves.

In this issue of Forefront, we highlight the work of Ningling Kang, Ph.D., and her colleagues. They have identified a molecule already implicated in a number of diverse cellular functions that can suppress the growth of tumors in the liver.

Dr. Kang's team discovered that when the molecule is active in the cells surrounding a tumor cell, this tumor microenvironment becomes less hospitable to cancer growth. When the molecule is deficient, cancer thrives. This discovery could eventually lead to new treatments for liver cancer.

Another article in this issue describes new guidelines developed by our hematologists to treat recently diagnosed multiple myeloma patients who are not participating in clinical trials. The guidelines include a call for the use of gene expression profiling to help identify patients with high-risk disease.

This issue also highlights the work of Mayo Clinic researchers who have developed a new software tool that works with CT scans to noninvasively identify a common form of lung cancer. The goal is to develop a tool that will stratify the risk lung adenocarcinomas pose by characterizing the cancers as aggressive or slow growing. Doing this may one day help doctors counsel patients about the most appropriate treatment options for their condition — which, at the end of the day, is what personalized medicine is all about.

  • Robert B. Diasio, M.D.
    • Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
    • William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor