Tuesday, 10 July 2012

NGS can find the cause of your disease, then you have to find the money to cure it

The New York Times reports the instructive story of Dr. Lukas Wartman, a young talented medical oncologist, bone marrow transplant specialist, who developed leukemia himself. Genetics researchers at Washington University decided to sequence the genes (WGS? WES?) of cancer cells and healthy cells of their colleague but it was it RNA-seq that allowed to find the over expression of FLT3 in the leukemia cells. The gene's normal role is to make cells grow and proliferate, thus an overactive FLT3 might be making Wartman’s cancer cells multiply out of control. Luckily enough, there is a drug, Sutent, approved for treating advanced kidney cancer, that inhibits FLT3. The only problem was that the drug costs $330 a day, and Wartman’s insurance company would not pay for it.
You can read the (happy) end of the story in this New York Times article.

Photo: Dilip Vishwanat, NYT / NYTNS

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