July 9, 2012 | Washington University School of Medicine oncologist Lukas Wartman was facing certain death last fall, but today he is alive and doing well. Dr. Wartman is a pioneer in a new approach to stopping cancer -- the use of whole genome sequencing to reveal the telltale mutation(s) behind his unique form of the disease, followed by the use of a rational therapy -- in this case, a drug called Sutent.
In the first of a riveting three-part series, veteran medical reporter Gina Kolata reveals how new genomics methods are giving patients renewed hope, even though there are no guarantees. The article has attracted more than 300 reader comments, including this from Washington University informatician David Dooling:
"The article overstates the magnitude of effort needed to sequence and analyze Lukas' genomes. We kept working on everything else while this was going on... the sequencing was done on one of our sequencers (and actually just one run of that sequencer); all the rest of the sequencers were busy sequencing other things. Similarly, our computational cluster was busy with a lot of other things as the genomes were being analyzed... Interpretation of the results can be time consuming, and in this case, as the article states, the DNA sequence did not turn up any smoking guns; it was the RNA sequencing that found the FLT3 over expression in relatively quick order."
New York Times