Researchers at DFCI and BWH have launched one of the world's most comprehensive cancer research studies.

They are dedicated to helping future cancer patients as they fight cancer today. During the past year, more than six thousand people with cancer have enrolled in Profile®, a new genotyping research study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH).

As one of the most comprehensive cancer research studies, Profile provides cancer researchers at DFCI and BWH with one of the world’s largest databases of cancer genetic abnormalities. Over time, this growing body of information will help scientists discover more about the genetic causes of cancers and increase the development of new, targeted therapies to treat them.

“Most patients enrolling in Profile do not directly benefit from the study, but they are helping many others who will be diagnosed with cancer down the road,” says Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

After consenting for the study, a sample of the patient’s tumor – obtained from biopsy or surgery – is screened at the BWH Center for Advanced Molecular Diagnostics for nearly 500 genetic mutations known to be implicated in cancer. Tissue-testing is performed with OncoMap, a system custom-designed by researchers at DFCI and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

A small number of people who participate in the study will have “actionable” genetic mutations in their cancer. For these patients, a particular drug is already known to be effective for the cancer mutation identified, and this information may be useful for the patient’s care. But, for most participants, the value of enrolling in the study is in helping future cancer patients in their fight against cancer.

“We know that the key to understanding how a cancer behaves – why it grows and what makes it respond to treatment – lies within the genetic make up,” said Dr. William Hahn, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer at DFCI . “We have already made major discoveries in this area that are helping many patients today. With Profile, we hope to help many more.”

– Jessica F

comments (0)