UCRF funds have equipped the RAM (Rapid Adoption Molecular) lab with the staff and high-tech microarray equipment allowing simultaneous analysis of multiple genes. As a result, the lab can characterize each patient's tumor in terms of its gene expression signature and is developing tests for use in personalized cancer medicine. These tests help doctors determine the best treatment, monitor treatment outcomes at the biochemical level, and tailor drug regimens for maximum effectiveness and minimum side effects.
Recent breakthroughs include the genetic test for breast cancer prognosis and a new KRAS gene test for colon cancer. The test identifies patients who will not respond to a new generation of expensive medicines called EGFR inhibitors - sparing them a lengthy course of ineffective treatment. New tests have also been developed to detect gene mutations in leukemia patients to help sort out whether patients are likely to respond to standard therapy or whether they are candidates for more aggressive treatments - saving precious time.
Melanoma patients with a KIT gene mutation can now be identified and given drugs that work well in leukemia patients with similar types of mutations. The KIT mutation in melanoma was just discovered within the last two years, and the RAM lab is already making it available to the state's physicians.