The value of seeing a more complete picture…
According to the article: “Dr. Lukas Wartman, a young, talented and beloved colleague, had the very cancer he had devoted his career to studying. He was deteriorating fast. No known treatment could save him. And no one, to their knowledge, had ever investigated the complete genetic makeup of a cancer like his.”
In an effort to find a cure — maybe out of desperation — Dr. Wartman’s team sequenced his entire DNA sequence as well as his RNA. The result of these analyses was a discovery that led to a personalized treatment to help fight the leukemia. Genetics, one of the fields at the forefront of personalized medicine, had powered discoveries made by other researchers on other projects for other diseases, but when pieced together with Dr. Wartman’s team’s discoveries it all began to paint a picture — a mosaic — from which patterns began to emerge.
The efforts of Dr. Wartman and his research team is a great example of the power of research informatics, pattern recognition and painting a more complete picture through research tools. The twist to this story is that the research process included a feedback loop directly back to the patient that allowed them to immediately applyinsights gained from testing and analysis.
In short, the clinical researchers gained a more complete view of the patient, Dr. Wartman, and thereby were able to tailor and administer a treatment that eventually sent his cancer into remission. (Beyond the clinical research element, this story is also a great testament to Dr. Wartman and his team’s dedication, passion and an unwillingness to let the cancer win.) You can read the full text of the article on the NY Times website, health section.
We continue to believe and actively promote the idea that gaining a view of the complete picture in life science research and healthcare is key to advancing discovery and subsequent innovation, because having the complete view and then analyzing and querying that data allows for pattern recognition. Discovering these patterns will accelerate innovation and, in time, help healthcare professionals realize the vision and promise of personalized medicine.