The promise and challenge of personalized cancer treatment

SAN ANTONIO (April 10, 2012) – Our deepening understanding of cancer genetics is allowing us to develop ever-more personalized treatments for individuals. Leading researchers at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center will discuss what they’re learning about how cancer travels through the body, and the pros and cons of tailoring specific treatments for each patient, at Thursday’s free public lecture at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center.

Tim Huang, Ph.D., deputy director of the CTRC, will explain the cutting-edge research that is beginning to unlock the puzzle of metastasis at the lecture, which will run from 6-7:30 on the 4th floor of the CTRC’s Grossman Building, 7979 Wurzbach Rd.

“Research shows that some tumor cells break free of the original tumor and circulate in the blood,” said Dr. Huang, professor and chair of the department of molecular biology in the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center. “These circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, show great promise for being important indicators of how disease progresses, especially for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.”

Dr. Huang will be joined by Steven Dale Weitman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Institute for Drug Development at the CTRC. Dr. Weitman will discuss developing specific cancer treatments based on the genetic makeup, or signature, of an individual’s cancer.

“With this technology, each patient has the potential to receive a customized therapeutic approach to his or her treatment, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the chance for healing,” Dr. Weitman said, “and without exposing patients to therapies that may not work.” As researchers learn more about this, he added, they are also learning that this strategy has some unexpected hurdles.

“As often happens with cancer, this approach may not be as simple as was originally thought and so the story is still unfolding,” Dr. Weitman said. The goal with time will be to design the best and most appropriate therapy for each individual with cancer, he said, eventually leaving behind the “one size fits all” approach to cancer treatment.

This is part of a series of free CTRC monthly public lectures on cancer designed for the general public. The series is sponsored by H-E-B and the Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. For more information, call 210-450-1152.

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the elite academic cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only four in Texas. A leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, the CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) conducts one of the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug programs in the world, and participates in development of cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit

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