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Improving the future accuracy and application of precision oncology

A partnership between Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (Monash BDI) and the MPCCC Precision Oncology Program is using innovative research technologies, including multi-omic and organoid profiling, to improve the future accuracy and application of precision oncology.

‘Multi-omics’ include advanced molecular and functional analysis techniques that may offer more comprehensive patient screening for molecular alterations than current genomics screening.

‘Current genome screening tests are typically restricted to analyses of known mutations in a small number of cancer genes,’ said Professor Roger Daly, Cancer Program Lead and Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Monash BDI. ‘This means that important molecular changes in a cancer could go undetected, and patients may miss out on trying potentially effective therapies.’

Through the MPCCC Precision Oncology Program, consenting patients’ tumour samples are shared with Monash BDI researchers to apply multi-omics techniques and create tumour-derived organoids. The project aims to identify and test whether particular therapeutics could be effective for specific patients, with an initial focus on triple-negative breast cancer, pancreatic cancer and cancers of unknown primary.

‘Techniques like transcriptomics, proteomics, immunoproteomics and phosphoproteomics can be used to generate a comprehensive molecular profile that may identify new targeted therapy options for a patient, or identify biomarkers that predict response to therapy, including immunotherapy,’ said Professor Helen Abud, Professor of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at the Monash BDI, who leads the Monash Organoid Program.

‘Using this knowledge, we can predict responses to particular drugs and then test the efficacy of these therapies on our patient-derived organoid models, which are essentially mini-tumours grown in the lab. This can mimic the ways a real-life patient’s tumour would respond, and help identify optimal treatments’, Professor Abud explained.

Results from the Monash BDI multi-omics and organoid program will be presented to the MPCCC’s Molecular Tumour Boards for discussion and educational purposes.

Improving the future accuracy and application of precision oncology