Guest Blog: Cracking the Genetic Code on Bladder Cancer

February 25, 2014
by Seth Lerner, MD

This guest blog is provided by Seth P. Lerner, MD, Professor, Scott Department of Urology, Chair of Urologic Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Lerner serves on BCAN’s Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board. 

Researchers with The Cancer Genome Atlas Network (TCGA) Network, a project created by the National Cancer Institute, recently released findings that understanding gene expression in bladder cancer could pave the way for new treatment options.  I am honored to be a leader on this investigative team.

As a Professor in the Department of Urology and Chair of Urologic Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, I have dedicated my career to finding new treatments for patients that improve the quality of life and find a cure.  With so few resources dedicated to bladder cancer, a significant breakthrough has been long overdue.  TCGA is an important development not only for the scientific and medical communities, but more importantly the patients.  In my work as a doctor, I see firsthand the difficulty that patients and loved ones experience when coping with a bladder cancer diagnosis.  Improving care for patients is a priority for me and extends to my volunteer role as a Board Member for the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network.

Analyzing tumor samples from 131 patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer, our investigative team found recurrent mutations in 32 genes. Some of these gene mutations are known to occur in other types of cancer.  For example, we discovered frequent mutations in the HER2 gene. Since this gene is also involved in breast cancer for many patients, researchers can explore whether using targeted drugs for the HER2 gene in breast cancer could also work for bladder cancer patients.  This research could help lead to personalized medicine by looking at the characteristics of a patient’s tumor to determine the best treatment.  Although little has changed in bladder cancer treatment in the last two decades, this research offers possibilities for future research and treatment options.

I will be presenting at an upcoming BCAN Patient Insight Webinar on February 26 at 8pm EST on this topic along with another investigator who was involved with this research: Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

I hope you will join us for this free informative webinar.
Personalized Medicine in Bladder Cancer: A Summary of the Cancer Genome Atlas Findings
Click here for more information: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3304884919237308929

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