Historically cancer has been studied and treated based on body parts. However, the advent of cost-efficient genome sequencing has revealed that only a handful of genes are frequently altered in a high percentage of tumors. A key message from these studies is that therapeutic approaches should aim at the genetic basis rather than the tissue of origin. This knowledge and the availability of highly selective inhibitors of gene products, promises a genotype-directed cancer therapy. Our lab is interested in developing such a genotype-directed cancer therapy for solid tumors by applying a basic biological concept called synthetic lethality. In effect, any genetic alteration that can cause selective-lethality with an oncogenic or a tumor suppressor mutation can be potentially translated into a therapeutic target. This will ultimately enable personalized medicine in which patients having disease of similar biological origin will likely benefit from a specific drug treatment. Our long term goal is to build a synthetic lethal network that will enable us to understand the genetic dependencies of cancer cells and define key therapeutic targets.
More information is available at www.usask.ca/~franco.vizeacoumar