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Cancer Treatment Speeded

by Caroline Humer | Sharon Begley ,  Chicago Tribune | 2012-10-06

A new supercomputer-based network will allow doctors to use genomic sequencing to speed cancer treatment and could increase survival chances for patients, its creator, billionaire healthcare businessman Dr. Patrick Soon Shiong, said on Tuesday. A group of technology and healthcare companies have formed the superhighway that will accelerate the time for genetic analysis of a patient's tumor to 47 seconds from eight to 10 weeks now, Soon-Shiong said in a press release.

The idea of matching a cancer to the most effective treatment, by determining the tumor's DNA profile, has been a dream for more than a decade. Some experts remain skeptical, however, that faster information will save lives.

Under the network, oncologists compare treatment options based on genetics, risk, and cost before they begin treatment, according to the statement from NantWorks, which is owned by Soon-Shiong.

The network allows oncologists to evaluate the cancer's molecular pathways earlier in the treatment process, which could increase survival over the usual current practice of choosing a treatment based on what organ - breast or lung, for instance - the tumor started in, the statement said.

Groups involved in the project to provide "life-saving information" include health insurer Blue Shield of California and companies such as Verizon and Intel Corp., according to NantHealth, part of Soon Shiong's company.

The network connects to over 8000 practicing oncologists and nurses, the release said.


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