On the final day of the World Medical Innovation Forum, Partners Healthcare announced selections for its “Disruptive Dozen,” the 12 technologies poised to revolutionize cancer care over the next decade.
“We hope that the selected technologies will provide both encouragement and optimism around the future of cancer care to everyone trying to discover new treatments and to physicians, patients and their families,” said Daniel Haber, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in a press release.
The following 12 technologies were identified by a panel of 21 senior faculty members in the Partners system:
1. CELLULAR IMMUNOTHERAPY: Although the field is early in it’s development, oncologists believe that engineering patients’ own immune systems to fight cancer will be an integral component of cancer therapy in the coming years.
2. IMMUNE MODULATORS (CHECKPOINT INHIBITORS) AND VACCINES: Checkpoint inhibitor drugs that boost the body’s own defenses, and vaccines that generate anti-tumor responses are anticipated to help doctors fight advanced cancer with more success.
3. LIQUID BIOPSY FOR ONCOLOGY: Over a dozen companies are transforming diagnostics by developing liquid biopsies that can identify cancer cells or tumor DNA that tumors shed into the blood.
4. MACHINE LEARNING AND COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY TO TRANSFORM CANCER CARE: Researchers and clinicians are confident that machine learning will help them develop patient-specific cancer treatments by analyzing individual biology in the context of rich and massive molecular and clinical data sets.
5. EPIGENETICS AND CANCER TREATMENT: Novel epigenetic cancer treatments have the potential to transform diseased cells into healthy cells, and are in some cases less toxic than chemotherapy.
6. THE MICROBIOME AND CANCER: The microbiome is anticipated to be an important player in the development of cancer immunotherapies that employ gut microbes.
7. CRISPR: GENONE EDITING AND CANCER: CRISPR, or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, has made plenty of headlines in 2016. And rightfully so, the technology allows scientists to edit genes with unprecedented ease. Oncologists at Partners are excited to see how CRISPR will be used to develop new cancer treatments.
8. SINGLE-CELL MOLECULAR PROFILING: Single-cell profiling promises to help scientists resolve intratumor heterogeneity, trace cell lineage, understand rare tumor cell populations, and measure mutation rates.
9. mHEALTH AND CANCER CARE: Technology that enables real-time patient data capture, such as wearables and apps, will allow for increased monitoring and intervention and potentially lower healthcare costs.
10. PATIENT-SPECIFIC RESEARCH TO ENABLE EFFICIENT DRUG DEVELOPMENT: Individualized testing and knowledge of patient sub-populations are helping researchers to predict individual treatment response to therapies.
11. REDEFINING VALUE IN CANCER CARE: Stakeholders will continue to improve the value of cancer care by redesigning payment models, eliminating ineffective therapies, and helping doctors/patients avoid inappropriate treatment.
12. NANOTECHNOLOGY AND CANCER TREATMENT: Researchers are using nanotechnology to deliver therapeutics selectively to cancer cells and enhance the therapeutic efficacy of certain treatments.
Abby Ballou is the managing editor of MedTech Boston. She has a B.A. and M.Phil in English literature from NYU and the CUNY Graduate Center, respectively. When she isn't writing and editing for MedTech Boston, Abby enjoys reading, rock climbing, watching classic movies and listening to opera.
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