Genetics is the study of how we inherit variations. These variations are passed down from parent to child through DNA mutations coded in our genes.
From DNA to Genes
Every cell in our body contains a set of instructions encoded in our DNA. DNA is just a really long molecule made up of a series of parts we’ve labeled A,T, G, or C.
These DNA molecules organize themselves into chromosomes. (Humans all have 23 pairs of chromosomes.) Chromosomes in turn organize into short pieces called genes. We all have our own unique set of 20,000 genes. These genes determine how we are different from other people—how tall we are, or our eye color, for example.
Your cells use the information in these 20,000 genes to make proteins. These proteins drive your body’s function: processes like how your body gets energy from food or transports oxygen in your blood. They also tell certain cells how to behave: brain cells to act like brain cells, bone cells to act like bone cells.
Genomics + Cancer
Just as you have your own genetic make-up, so your cancer has its own genomic, or molecular, profile.
Certain types of your genetic variations are also implicated in the development of cancer. Genomic alterations associated with cancer development are base substitutions, insertions and deletions, copy number alterations, and rearrangements.
When your oncologist says he’s going to order next-generation sequencing of your tumor, what he really means is that he’s sending a tissue, blood, or bone marrow sample to a company that uses advanced technology to test for those types of alterations. He will use the results of this genomic profiling, also called molecular profiling, to customize his treatment approach.
There are some obstacles in this approach, however. It is not always clear how, or if, these results change treatment paths. And not all doctors have the time or means to explain to you what the intricacies of your test results mean outside of how it directly relates to your cancer treatment. These sorts of discussions would ordinarily be left to genetic counselors, but right now we have a global shortage of counselors.
We are in a period of seismic transition. The genomic revolution offers immense promise. We’re on the cusp of being able to fully personalize medicine. But until we’ve fully made the jump from the one-size-fits-all approach to full customization, Immunogenetics bridge the gap by allowing cancer doctors and cancer patients everywhere to access cutting edge genomic profiling and integrate it into their treatments.
Immunogenetics identifies key molecular profiling assays, interprets and synthesizes the results, and explains in detail to patients what all this means in the context of both their cancer and their overall health. We then rely on a vast network of cancer doctors to execute the plans we devise.