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Clay Siegall: Advancing the Science Behind Genetic Testing for Cancer




Over one and a half million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2016 throughout America. Breast, lung, and colon cancers are among the most common types of the disease. Although a variety of factors influence who develops cancer, much more research is needed to develop ways to achieve earlier diagnosis and more accurate treatment methods for these serious diseases. What does the future hold for genetic testing for cancer? Are we already seeing benefits in the realm of genetic cancer testing? Clay Siegall does a deep dive on the questions on everyone’s mind.

The Future of Cancer Testing May Involve Genetics

Scientists still do not fully understand why some people develop cancer and others do not. Even among the same family, there can be cases of some individuals developing cancer while the rest do not. By developing a better understanding of genes and how they affect cancer, researchers may finally be able to discover why this fact remains.

Every man and woman on the planet have over 20,000 genes that combine to make each person unique in a variety of ways. From determining our eye color to how tall we grow, genes are responsible for everything that makes us uniquely different from others. Cells within the body are constantly changing. They go through periods of duplication, self-preservation, and eventual death on an ongoing basis. When things go wrong with any of these processes, it can result in errors within the DNA code that have the potential to lead to serious diseases such as cancer. If medical professionals can further enhance ways to study these genes, they can potentially unlock powerful secrets that will allow them to make more accurate diagnoses of cancer and provide more effective treatment options.

Diagnosis Cancer Faster and More Accurately

Medical professionals have known for a long time that an earlier diagnosis of cancer can prove to be life-saving for the patient. Prompt and accurate diagnosis of such a serious disease allows for treatment to be started right away. If researchers and medical professionals can develop ways to make DNA testing a standard part of patient care, the diagnosis of these diseases could go much faster and prove to be much more accurate. We already see this type of DNA technology used in the diagnosis of tuberculosis, for example. Aside from cancer, people with very rare diseases could also benefit greatly from a faster diagnosis and more prompt treatment since less is already known about these rare disorders.

Benefits and Concerns of Targeted Medicine

The Human Genome Project began over a decade ago. The purpose of this project was to provide a database for researchers to be able to gather and formulate information based on the bits of DNA code they were able to collect and input into this system. It was during the initial stages of this process that scientists were finally able to begin understanding how genes affect different bodily functions. The very basis of genomic medicine is to take this information and use it to tailor a patient’s medical care to their unique set of DNA, leading to a better standard of care and more beneficial treatment options. If doctors can understand how to read a patient’s genetic code and use that information to care for them, they have a better chance of accurately determining exactly what the problem is and selecting the most beneficial treatment for that particular patient.

Some medical professionals are concerned with privacy issues surrounding data as sensitive and personal as a person’s DNA code. Other physicians are simply set in their ways and prefer not to change how medicine is being practiced today. However, all useful advancements made along the way in the field of medicine have involved a leap of faith and a willingness to make adjustments as things change. The area of genetic testing for cancer is no different. Steps can be taken that will ensure this personal information is protected for all patients.

Bladder Cancer Recurrence

Testing for bladder cancer recurrence is one area where advancements are already being seen. A team of researchers has recently developed a simple urine test that can accurately diagnose a recurrence of this fairly common cancer. The currently used method for testing for bladder cancer recurrence provide accurate results only 34% of the time. The newly formulated urine test is accurate in over 80% of cases. Additionally, the test is able to tell the difference between the presence of a malignancy and the presence of a urinary tract infection, allowing for an accurate diagnosis free of obstructive co-existing conditions or illnesses.

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

In the past few decades, testing for prostate cancer has been a lengthy process that involved dozens of biopsies taken from various parts of the prostate. Months would pass before a proper diagnosis could be given and treatment could be started. This testing process has now been simplified. Medical professionals can now use an advanced testing process to reach an accurate diagnosis in just three short weeks. Perhaps even better, no biopsy samples are needed. Additionally, the new test is cheaper than the old version.

Who is Clay Siegall?

Clay Siegall is the Founder, CEO, and President of Seattle Genetics. Seattle Genetics is a biotechnology company that specializes in creating advanced monoclonal anti-body based treatments for various types of cancer. Under the direction of Clay Siegall, Seattle Genetics has made huge advancements in developing several FDA-approved monoclonal treatment therapies to target the various effects of cancer.

Clay Siegall has also been active in fundraising efforts developed in association with the efforts of Seattle Genetics. His efforts have allowed for the accumulation of more than $675 million through both public and private funding from various supporters.

Prior to assisting with the development of Seattle Genetics, Dr. Siegall worked directly with some of the biggest names in the Pharmaceutical industry. He was directly involved with Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute from 1991 through 1997. Clay Siegall received his Ph.D. in genetics from George Washington University. Today, he continues to put his hard work and dedication into the development of scientifically advanced treatment options for all types of cancer.

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases that an individual can be faced with today. Because many succumb to the disease each year, a cancer diagnosis can be an emotional event filled with anxiety. Hope is on the horizon concerning the use of genetic testing to provide more accurate cancer diagnosis methods and more targeted treatment options. Genetic testing for cancer could pave the way for patients dealing with this disease to live much longer and happier lives.

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