Past Meetings

Precision Medicine in Oncology and Pharmacology

2/16/18  Back

Our February meeting of Health TechNet was held on Friday, February 16, at the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax, VA. 

The feature topic was recent developments in the growing field of precision medicine, especially in oncology and pharmacology. Anne Rosenblum (Fairfax County Development Authority) and Doug Goldstein (Inova Center for Personalized Health) assembled a terrific program and excellent speakers. 

In the treatment of cancer, there is now rapid growth in the understanding of biomarkers that play a role in disease and response to drugs. Science is further advancing the treatment of cancer through a new frontier of gene and cell therapies to transform cancer treatment and potentially eradicate it, as well as other diseases. Mary Ann Shallcross, Principal of Bio-Strategies, talked about CAR-T therapy, often referred to as a living drug and CRISPR to repair mutated genes causing cancer and other diseases.

The emerging field of pharmacogenomics is another application of precision medicine. Until recently, most medicines have been developed and given to patients in a "one size fits all" approach. However, people respond differently to medications due, in part, to their genetic makeup. Pharmacogenomics (also called PGx) is the study of how people's genes affect their response to medications. Inova’s MediMap® program with its byline of “Your genes. Your roadmap.™ “ was introduced by Franziska Moeckel, AVP of Personalized Health at Inova Health System. She discussed various other “map” programs that Inova is offering as well. A link to the video describing these programs is attached below.

All the treatment and care must come down to the patient/consumer taking the right drugs for them and ensuring that there are prescribed treatments that make sense based on existing knowledge of their specific patient profile. Jim Vedder, CFO of Reston-based Mirixa Corporation provided insights into how these new treatments will affect their retail pharmacy network which includes over 55,000 retail pharmacies. Mirixa's pharmacy network and Medication Counseling Centers address the needs of over 200 health plans and employers representing over 22,000,000 patient lives and they have completed over 2,500,000 person-to-person interventions since inception.