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Penn Medicine's New Center For Personalized Diagnostics Unlocks Cancer's Secrets

Individualized Genomic Testing Allows for Tailored Cancer Treatment, New Drug Research

PHILADELPHIA, April 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just like a massive iceberg jutting out of the ocean, many of cancer's genetic underpinnings remain hidden under the surface, impossible to predict or map from above. The foreboding shadows and shapes that appear on CT scans and MRIs - and even in the field that doctors see when they zoom in to look at cancer cells under a high-powered microscope - are just the tip of the iceberg.

Penn Medicine's new Center for Personalized Diagnostics, a joint initiative of the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center, is diving deeper into each patient's tumor with next generation DNA sequencing. These specialized tests can refine patient diagnoses with greater precision than standard imaging tests and blood work, all with an aim to broaden treatment options and improve their efficacy.

"We're using the most advanced diagnostic methods to unlock cancer's secrets," says David B. Roth, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. "A tumor's genomic profile is the most critical piece of information for an oncologist to have when they're deciding what therapy to recommend. The results of tests in the Center for Personalized Diagnostics reveal a genetic blueprint of each patient's tumor that is as discrete and singular as a fingerprint."

The Center for Personalized Diagnostics unites top experts in genomic analysis, bioinformatics, and cancer genetics - who use the most sensitive data analysis tools available to identify the rarest of mutations - with oncologists who treat patients and design clinical trials to test new therapies. Together, their efforts will provide cancer patients with cutting-edge diagnostic and therapeutic options.

The first group of patients who are undergoing testing through the CPD includes those with blood cancers and solid tumors of the brain, melanoma, and lung. Throughout 2013, the tests will be expanded for a wider range of cancer patients. Results are available within two weeks - twice as fast as most commercially available testing panels. All new and relapsed Abramson Cancer Center patients will receive this testing - conducted via simple blood tests and/or biopsy of tumor tissue or bone marrow - as part of their evaluation and diagnostic process. Interpretation of results is communicated one-on-one to patients and their caregivers by physicians and genetic counselors.

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