We’ve made a lot of progress in cancer research in recent years. Many novel therapies have been developed for illnesses previously considered untreatable. However, as new treatments have been discovered, clinicians have been left with an unforeseeable complication- an increased challenge when it comes to prescribing patients the best treatment option.
Back in the day, cancer was just cancer. Variations of it were all categorized under the same umbrella. There was one treatment option and if it worked, it worked and if it didn’t, it didn’t. Now, physicians are faced with the task of examining a multitude of therapeutic options and determining the best therapy or combination thereof for each unique diagnosis.
Research Jeremy Warner, a professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics, has plans to develop a software which will assist clinicians in this endeavor. This research has been made possible thanks to a grant from the National Cancer Institute for 1 million dollars.
Warner’s project is called Network Analysis for a Data-Driven Approach to Cancer Care. In addition to helping clinicians navigate different treatment options, Warner and his team hope to also create a resource for medical students as well as cancer researchers.
Of course, each individual patient will have their own unique cancer story, however Warner hopes that his software could help with the development of “best-practice pathways” for a wide variety of different cancers.
He emphasizes the magnitude of the issue by explaining that clinicians aren’t just working to determine clinical trial options for their patients, but the simple standard of care they should receive.
Also working on the project are researchers from Harvard University as well as the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Warner’s team is starting their research with just two cancers, both of which are very complex. The first is breast cancer, whose treatment has recently become more complicated because researchers have been able to create different drugs which target very specific mutations within the tumors. These new drugs may also be differently prescribed depending on cancer subtype, but the analysis of which drug to utilize can be difficult.
The second cancer Warner is examining is Multiple Myeloma. Retrospective studies of this cancer have indicated that there are over 100 different approaches for patients who have relapsed with the condition. Obviously, a lot of research has gone into these approaches, however there are still discrepancies concerning advantages and disadvantages of different options. To investigate these, Warner will utilize both literature-based evidence as well as case data from specific patients.
Hopefully, we will see research from this project become implemented in cancer care practices soon. The goal is that this new software could help in the prescribing practice of a wide array of different cancers and their subtypes.
You can read more about this new project and the grant funding it here.