Precision Approach Gets Results in Pediatric Cancer Treatment

Diana Azzam’s lab at FIU is the first to successfully guide personalized treatments for hard-to-treat children’s cancers through a unique functional precision medicine approach. Samples of a patient’s tumor are rushed to Azzam’s lab, where they are processed in a way that closely resembles how they would normally grow in the body. They're then exposed to more than 120 FDA-approved drugs, and the best “cancer destroyers” are identified.

Personalized cancer treatment is about getting rid of the guesswork by matching “the right drug for the right person at the right time,” says Azzam. One of the most common precision medicine tools is genomics, and Azzam’s approach includes a genomics component. But its “functional” ability to see how living cancer cells derived from a patient tumor sample respond in real time to extensive drug testing expands the horizon of treatment options.

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