Health Headlines: Using DNA to determine treatment

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Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 8:03 AM CST
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Ivanhoe Newswire) – A new era of medical treatment is just beginning and it will soon revolutionize how doctors treat many health conditions and diseases. It does away with the “one-size-fits-all” approach to treating diseases like cancer. Instead, it looks at a patient’s genetic makeup and tailors the most effective treatment for them based, in part, on their DNA.

Health and fitness have always been a big part of David Perry’s life. You’d never guess this 58-year-old grandfather has been living with a brain tumor for five years.

Perry says, “The first thought when you hear you have a brain tumor is, ‘Okay, what about the future? Am I going to be confined to a hospital bed and go through the yucky stuff of chemotherapy and radiation?’”

So far, Perry has managed to avoid chemo and radiation. That’s because he happens to have a genetic profile that qualifies him for an experimental new drug, one that uses precision medicine.

“I like to think of precision medicine as, really, this idea of tailoring the medication or the treatment to the patient’s tumor,” says Neuro-oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Joe Mendez, MD.

Chemotherapy works by killing all the cells around the cancer, even the non-cancerous ones, which comes with severe side-effects. But precision medicine is able to target just the cancer leaving healthy cells alone.

“It’s a very unique way of attacking cancer. Something we haven’t done for a long time,” Dr. Mendez mentions.

And the drug is working. There has been zero growth in Perry’s brain tumor for the year and a half he’s been on the drug. He says the only side effects he’s seeing are those that come with getting older.

Perry expresses, “I don’t have to be sick, I can work as much as I want, go to the gym as much as I want. I can enjoy my wife, my kids, my grandchildren and live a normal life full of hope.”

For now, the drug Perry was given is still in the trial phase and there’s no estimate on when it might receive FDA-approval. But Dr. Mendez says the concept of “precision medicine” will continue to evolve as doctors create better treatment plans for cancer patients.

Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.