July 7, 2012

A Genome Sequencing Success, Leukemia Cure

A whole Genome Sequencing success story, leukemia cure for Dr. Lukas Wartman at Washington University.

NYTimes on Dr. Lukas Wartman’s leukemia 
Dr. Ley’s team tried a type of analysis that they had never done before. They fully sequenced the genes of both his cancer cells and healthy cells for comparison, and at the same time analyzed his RNA, a close chemical cousin to DNA, for clues to what his genes were doing.

The researchers on the project put other work aside for weeks, running one of the university’s 26 sequencing machines and supercomputer around the clock. And they found a culprit — a normal gene that was in overdrive, churning out huge amounts of a protein that appeared to be spurring the cancer’s growth.

Even better, there was a promising new drug that might shut down the malfunctioning gene — a drug that had been tested and approved only for advanced kidney cancer. Dr. Wartman became the first person ever to take it for leukemia.

The Results 
And now, against all odds, his cancer is in remission and has been since last fall. While no one can say that Dr. Wartman is cured, after facing certain death last fall, he is alive and doing well. Dr. Wartman is a pioneer in a new approach to stopping cancer. What is important, medical researchers say, is the genes that drive a cancer, not the tissue or organ — liver or brain, bone marrow, blood or colon — where the cancer originates.

The root cause for leukemia - an overactive FLT3 gene.

The cureSutent drug, Sunitinib Malate, normally used for treating kidney cancer.

Tags: whole genome sequencing win, whole genome sequencing success, leukemia gene sequencing, leukemia cure, leukemia success story, lukas wartman leukemia cure, lukar wartman leukemia success, sutent leukemia, leukemia flt3 gene