Publish date: 2 February 2022
Genomics – How the future is now in Cheshire and Merseyside
By Steve Jones, Senior Project Manager, CMCA
The startling advances in the scientific understanding of cancer over the past few decades means we also need to advance our view of treatments and care.
All cancers are now being seen as personal, individual. Yes, one in two people will get cancer in their lifetimes, but we now know that no two cancers are alike.
Understanding that each cancer case is as individual as the person who presents with it means we are now on the verge of offering tailored cancer treatments to make outcomes as good as they can be.
But how has science changed our knowledge and outlook with regard to the disease?
Genomics. Advances in genome sequencing and the associated field of genomics now give us a much more rounded idea of how tumours and other forms of cancer – and also medication – affects different individuals.
So what is genomics in humans? It is the study of a person’s particular genome – the set of genetic instructions, made up of genes and DNA, that goes into creating and sustaining that individual.
When you know the the genetic profile of a person, it can be possible to figure out more about the likely effectiveness of medical interventions, such as prescribing drugs to treat a disease.
The first complete genome sequence of a living organism was produced in 1995, with the first human genome sequenced in 2003. Since then, huge strides have been made in discovering how changes in individual genes lead to cancers. And when you know that you have a chance to find specific treatments that can target the cancer better or lessen negative side-effects on patients.
Genomics can also help to identify people who may be at risk of certain cancers, so they can be treated earlier and more successfully.
Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance is working with clinicians to give them support about genomics and understand how it can be used in cancer services and care.
Genomics can be a complicated subject, so please watch this video (below) to give you a basic understanding of the subject – and how we are pushing forward the use of genomics in cancer across Cheshire & Merseyside...
Dr Roise Lord, a Consultant Oncologist and Deputy Medical Director at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, is an expert in cancer genomics. She is Chair of CMCA’s Genomics Clinical Quality Group.
Dr Lord says: “Genomics is the future of cancer care and has revolutionised our understanding, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
“Our job now is to embed these transformative interventions properly so that they become routine and effective ways to help patients across Cheshire and Merseyside.
“Research and clinical trials will help to further our understanding and ability to provide the most effective therapies for patients and for future generations.
“But genomics is also being used now and at the Cancer Alliance we are ensuring these new methods are standardised and are routinely part of services across the whole of Cheshire and Merseyside.”