DNA Strands

Online database informs precision medicine

An annotated database of actionable cancer genes, compiled by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has gone live. It’s called Personalized Cancer Therapy.

“Personalized Cancer Therapy is a web resource to help physicians and patients assess potential therapy options based on specific tumor biomarkers,” says project leader Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., chair of Investigational Therapeutics and medical director of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.

The site provides detailed information on 12 genes. Entries include:

· A brief overview

· Annotated lists of mutations, fusions and copy number variations

· Frequencies and outcomes for patients

· Therapeutic implications – including levels of evidence behind each therapy

· Clinically available drugs, both on the market and in clinical trials

· Links to clinical trials

“Our initial focus is on actionable genes that we believe have a greater impact for patients and physicians,” says Meric-Bernstam. “We’ll be adding more genes and updating entries as more information becomes available.” She estimates the site will eventually include evidence-based information on around 30 genes.  Those annotated now are AKT1, ALK, BRAF, FGFR1, FGFR2, KIT, KRAS, MET, NRAS, PDGFRA, PIK3CA and PTEN.

Among those to be added are EGFR and HER2. Genetic variations that are common but not actionable, such as p53, will be added later.

The project grew out of an internal effort to make current information, including open clinical trials, more readily available to MD Anderson clinicians, Meric-Bernstam said. “Even if oncologists know a lot about a gene, it’s hard to be familiar with every mutation and its function.”

It occurred to the team that the site would be helpful to others outside the institution.

“I don’t know of another resource that goes into quite as much depth, with this level of annotation, and puts it at the fingertips of physicians,” says IPCT director Kenna Shaw, Ph.D. Shaw came to MD Anderson from The Cancer Genome Atlas at the National Institutes of health, where she was deputy director.

Future projects include making the site searchable by tumor type, building additional tools for users and developing a lay-friendly version.

The site was developed by Meric-Bernstam, Shaw, IPCT researchers Vijaykumar Holla, Ph.D., Amber Johnson, Ph.D., and Ann Bailey, Ph.D., and computational scientist Jia Zeng, PhD. The team welcomes feedback on the site email PCT@mdanderson.org.


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