A job that will strike cancer at home!

SHAFAQNA Türkiye – From April 1st to 7th, as part of National Cancer Week, the Center for Research and Application of Genetic and Metabolic Diseases (GEMHAM) at Marmara University (MU) has good news about a new study that makes existing cancer treatments even more effective. The study, which was initiated at the center and carried out in collaboration with surgeons, oncologists and pathologists working in the field of oncology, aims to select a drug or method that will have the highest effect in the treatment of “solid” diseases. tumors such as breast, lung and colon cancer. Accordingly, a sample taken from the tissue surrounding the patient, including tumor and immune cells, is quickly delivered to the laboratory; here, data obtained as a result of specialized complex genetic sequencing are analyzed using bioinformatics methods; Therapies that can be used are tested “on the patient’s own cells” in a laboratory setting before they are administered to the patient. Thus, the response or side effects of the treatment are determined at the cellular level, and it is possible to prevent the patient from wasting time by taking a treatment that will not bring benefits. Even if it is smart medicine or immunotherapy, if the patient does not benefit from this method, this treatment protocol is not preferred. Professor at the Department of Bioengineering at Marmara University (MÜ) who conducted the study. Dr. Kazim Yalcin Arga and Marmara University (MU) Faculty of Medicine, Faculty Member of the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences and Director of GEMHAM, Prof. Dr. Betul Yılmaz spoke to the Demirören news agency about a new approach to cancer treatment.


prof. Dr. Kazim Yalcin Arga noted that with this study they have added another dimension to personalized cancer treatment and provided the following information: “What we do first is determine the molecular characteristics of the patient by sequencing the blood and tumor tissues obtained from the patient together. . Thus, we determine the drug targets that we will use in the treatment specifically for the patient. At this stage, it is very important to conduct joint sequencing of the patient’s own blood and the tumor. This gives an advantage in terms of setting the right goals. The most innovative aspect of this study is that it allows “treatment targets to be worked on the patient’s own tissues (organoid models) in the laboratory during the cell culture step). This gives us a lot of information about the success of the treatment without the need for any animal experiments, but without going to the clinical stage.”

Research that will hit cancer at home: They first try the treatment in the lab, 'as if they were applying it to a patient'


Noting that the personalized cancer treatments used today use cancer models that are not owned by the patient, but are used in laboratories, and that this can change the outcome when a patient receives such treatment, with the effect of their own immune and genetic response. Dr. Arga said: “Because we analyze the organoid along with the patient’s own tumor cells, healthy cells and cells of the immune system, the response to treatment that we get when testing a drug can be much closer to the response in the patient’s body. Therefore, we achieve very successful results compared to traditional methods. Genomic profiling of a patient gives us the most appropriate drug targets for that patient. The drug therapy strategies we will use here may be in the form of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or next-generation smart drugs. The advantage of this system is that it gives better results in terms of which of these treatment strategies is more appropriate for a given patient.” He said.

Research that will hit cancer at home: They first try the treatment in the lab, 'as if they were applying it to a patient'


Emphasizing that they are currently doing this research on cancers associated with solid tumors and that they are doing this research in collaboration with doctors working in the field of cancer from many centers, MU School of Medicine Faculty Member of the Department of Basic Medical Sciences and Director of GEMHAM Prof. Dr. Betul Yılmaz, on the other hand, said they would do a similar study for cancers like leukemia and lymphoma in the future. prof. Dr. Yılmaz said: “The whole process is under the supervision of oncologists, surgical departments and pathologists. Because the data from them is very important to us. Pathology gives us details such as the stage of the cancer and the type of cancer. The oncologist already decides which treatment will be applied, in parallel with us. The importance of surgery for us is this: in order to culture organoids, if possible, the patient’s own tissue, which we call an organoid, so that we can experiment on it, we need to take fresh tissue. Here, of course, as soon as the surgeon removes the tissue, we must take it to the laboratory and try it on certain preparations, after removing as many cells as possible from there.”

Research that will hit cancer at home: They first try the treatment in the lab, 'as if they were applying it to a patient'


prof. Dr. Yılmaz noted that the examples received so far are generally of patients with end-stage cancer who have tried various treatments and have no other choice, but that it is necessary to start this system as soon as the patient is delivered diagnosis. “In fact, once a cancer is diagnosed, when a gene is identified here and the right treatment is applied to it, conditions such as drug resistance, lack of response to a drug, or cancer recurrence are minimized. level. Therefore, it should be done as soon as cancer is detected. We were usually approached by patients whose treatment options had been exhausted and what else we could do. We need to start applying this method from a new diagnostic stage. In this way, we can get rid of disadvantages such as unnecessary use of drugs in the treatment of cancer (there may be drugs that cannot be responded to in treatment), unnecessary use of radiation, waste of time, and negative impact on the patient’s psychology. .

Research that will hit cancer at home: They first try the treatment in the lab, 'as if they were applying it to a patient'


Stating that some patients have responded poorly even to “smart” drugs, Prof. Dr. Yılmaz concluded his words as follows: “The reason for this is that some genes have been omitted in the background. When we checked the data received from the organoid, we found 40 percent more activity, which is very different from the previous result. In our opinion, this test should be done at the very beginning of all cancer patients. Of course, today genetic testing is used in cancer treatment. This is also not true, but; not enough. We see that in many patients immunotherapy can be carried out by examining one or two genes. But this is not enough, because in the background, tumor-suppressing and tumor-enhancing genes (specific to this patient) need to be analyzed together so that the right treatment can be decided. Today, personalized cancer treatment is used in many centers. But the other point that we highlight in our study is to do this analysis on “fresh tissue” taken from the patient, if possible, and determine treatment protocols based on it. The fact that we can analyze bioinformatics data with the software we have developed is a novelty in itself.”

Research that will hit cancer at home: They first try the treatment in the lab, 'as if they were applying it to a patient'


So far, 4 patient samples have been included in the 2-year study and the treatment protocol has been adjusted accordingly. It became known that 3 out of 4 patients with brain tumor, lung, colon and stomach cancer responded well to treatment, and their treatment is still ongoing. A patient with a progressive brain tumor died. However, one patient with colon cancer, included in the protocol earlier, had a complete recovery. 80% success rate has been achieved in the treatment of patients with lung and stomach cancer. By the end of the year, it is planned to streamline the treatment of oncology for about 100 patients under this protocol. GEMHAM researchers believe that with this protocol, which will increase the effectiveness of all existing traditional or innovative cancer treatments (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, smart medicine or immunotherapy), much better results can be achieved in the treatment of many cancer patients.

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