Like most websites The Translational Scientist uses cookies. In order to deliver a personalized, responsive service and to improve the site, we remember and store information about how you use it. Learn more.
Tools & Techniques Cancer, Personalized medicine, Informatics

Database Discrimination?

When is “precision medicine” not precision medicine? When it’s used for patients of non-European descent, a new study from the University of Southern California reveals (1). Ideally, genetic mutations in cancer cells are highlighted in a comparison with normal tissue – but, in many cases, there’s no normal tissue sample available. Genetic information from population databases can serve as a stand-in, but there’s a catch: most of the genomes included in such databases come from individuals of European descent. What does that mean? Variants that are harmless in a given patient may stand out as potentially cancer-causing, simply because the population database lacks the information to identify them as benign.

“A physician could give a treatment that is toxic, ineffective or worse – unnecessarily,” says David Craig, principal investigator and co-director of the Institute of Translational Genomics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “This would be the case in the context of clinical decision-making based on tumor sequencing only.” If reported mutations are interpreted as cancer-driving when they are, in fact, inherited and most likely benign, patients might undergo more intensive treatment than necessary, or might not receive the treatment best-suited to their particular disease profile.

Enjoy our FREE content!

Log in or register to read this article in full and gain access to The Translational Scientist’s entire content archive. It’s FREE and always will be!

Login if you already created an account

Or register now - it’s free and always will be!

You will benefit from:

  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts

Or Login as a Guest or via Social Media


Send me the latest from The Translational Scientist.

Sign up now

Related Articles

Disease Area

More than METs the Eye

| Jonathan James

Tools & Techniques

Right for Patients?

| Ellen Sigal

Tools & Techniques

Express Insight into Bladder Cancer

| Michael Schubert

Most Popular

Register here

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:

  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts