It's the not-too-distant future, say 2016. You have been diagnosed with Stage III melanoma. Cancer has metastasized throughout your body. Just 10 years ago, in 2006, the choice of treatment would have been based on the type of primary cancer, the size and location of the metastasis, your age, your general health and your treatment history. Your prognosis would have been gloomy. But that was back in 2006, before we entered the era of nanomedicine.Technorati Tags: Nanotechnology, Nanomedicine
In 2016, your doctor will be capable of scanning your entire genome in a few minutes. She will do this because every cell has a different gene expression pattern or profile. When a cell becomes cancerous, this profile changes. Your Stage III melanoma has a unique, schizoid genetic signature reflecting both a skin cell heritage and a newly acquired outlaw metabolism. Your doctor will explain that while your cancer has a great deal in common with other Stage III melanomas, it is not exactly like any other. Your doctor knows this because for the past few years DNA from virtually every melanoma patient in the U.S. healthcare system has been routinely extracted, scanned and deposited in a national database. This population of sequences, fully analyzed and with a user-friendly graphic interface, is available in real time. Searching this database for any specific cancer sequence will be about as difficult in 2016 as finding Madonna's birthday on Google is today.
Monday, November 28, 2005