Personalised cancer treatments get a boost in Qatar

A pilot program launched in Doha, Qatar could bring hope to those relying on the development of personalised treatments for children suffering with a range of cancers.

The program, developed by a multidisciplinary team at Sidra Medicine, will build a bio-repository of patient samples, matched to clinical data, to facilitate the development of optimised, even individualised, treatment options. 

Dr. Wouter Hendrickx Principal Investigator of the pilot added, “Personalized medicine is transitioning away from a ‘one size fits all’ treatment approach towards a more advanced and detailed version, to better manage patients’ health. This not only helps manage the disease but also offers the best outcomes. The development of the biorepository pilot is a true showcase of how our research, pathology, patient care services have collaborated to offer the possibility for each paediatric cancer patient to have their malignancy investigated in the most advanced way available.”

Cancers develop and progress as a result of essentially random mutations, and all patients have their own individual pattern of mutations, meaning disease can present in a multitude of different ways, often making treatment outcomes difficult to predict. Profiling a patient’s individual genetic makeup, when compared against a repository of others’ data, and when aligned with clinical data, can allow identification of which treatments work best for particular biomarkers. The pilot scheme at Sidra will allow researchers to collect this type of data to develop the capability to make these more effective therapeutic decisions.

Dr. Davide Bedognetti, Director of Sidra Medicine’s Cancer Research Department said: “What we do is to analyse as many parameters as possible to find the important ones that can be used to guide treatment or find novel targets. A systematic collection such as the one implemented in the Biorepository Pilot, represents the first and critical step to allow a comprehensive characterization of the cancer.”

The program should ultimately allow the development of a unique understanding of the molecular basis of many childhood cancers and open the door to more effective treatments.