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Roswell Park’s new diagnostic test promises cutting-edge cancer care

Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s search for a new president and CEO to succeed Dr. Donald L. Trump, who is retiring at the end of the year, has not slowed the institute’s exciting work, particularly in personalized medicine. Candace Johnson, Roswell Park’s deputy director, said an advanced molecular diagnostic laboratory test that promises personalized treatment for cancer patients based on the analysis of their genes is expected to be available as soon as this week.

The state Health Department last month approved the test, known as OmniSeq Target, developed by scientists in Roswell Park’s Center for Personalized Medicine. The potential for personalized medicine is enormous, both for patients here and across the nation and for the Western New York economy, which could leverage this burgeoning technology.

It all sounds almost like the stuff of science fiction, but scientists in Buffalo and around the globe are looking toward personalized medicine to develop therapies for cancer and other diseases.

There are still many issues to deal with, including patient privacy and the possible reluctance of insurance companies to pay for widespread genetic testing, but the possibility that a patient could receive a treatment specially tailored for that patient is too promising not to pursue vigorously.

A couple of years ago, Roswell Park was awarded $5.1 million from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council to jump-start its Center for Personalized Medicine. Roswell Park dedicated an additional $16 million in its own funds to develop, equip and staff the center, creating 30 jobs.

Critical support from New York State inspired a key partner, Computer Task Group, to invest another $2.5 million to help develop robust informatics systems needed to integrate vast quantities of genomic data into clinical care.

As Dr. Trump wrote in a Jan. 5 Another Voice, Roswell Park is “on the cusp of big steps forward.” Its genetic test for diagnosing and analyzing lung cancers is more comprehensive than any other test on the market. Roswell Park has been working with CTG to develop a system to help hospitals and providers around the country offer genomic analysis to their patients. Roswell Park is one of only a handful of hospitals that focus on personalized medicine.

The result could be a huge improvement in the care of cancer patients around the country as well as bringing good-paying jobs here to Western New York. The future of personalized medicine is breathtaking, and we’re happy to see Roswell Park at the forefront of such groundbreaking research.