Utah Genomics lab teams up with Stanford to extend cancer patients' lives



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ST. GEORGE — We live in what researchers call the Information Age of Genetics, but all that DNA data is sometimes too much to analyze.

But a new partnership could make it easier to treat and extend the lives of cancer patients using a drug designed just for them: Stanford University researchers have teamed up with Utah's Intermountain Precision Genomics.

"(Stanford University's) always been at the forefront of genomic technology," said Jason Gillman, director of Intermountain Precision Genomics. "They're actually bringing technologies to Precision Genomics. So there are some conversations now about wearable technologies."

These advanced technologies will fast track analysis of personalized cancer-fighting drugs.

"What it allows us to do is actually see how a patient is responding to any type of treatment as they're sitting at their desk or they're at home in bed," he said.

Cancer patient John Moore could be riding his motorcycle while being monitored.

"I made the decision a long time ago that I wouldn't quit (fighting)," Moore told KSL TV last summer.

Moore was given just six months to live in 2014 when Precision Genomics took a hard look at his cancer cells.

"What we're doing is we are looking at the DNA itself, what's inside each of the cells," said David Loughmiller, Intermountain Precision Genomics lab manager.

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In Moore's case, the lab came up with a drug in pill form to treat his unique cancer profile.

"This is not a cure for cancer but this is a large step towards treating cancer," Gillman said.

Now Moore is back in the driver's seat and enjoying recreation opportunities near St. George. In fact, it's incredible to think it has been almost two years since his deadly diagnosis.

"It's hope — 12 months is better than six months, and a year and a half is better than one," Moore said.

At Intermountain Precision Genomics, the hope is to extend many more lives with support from its new Stanford partners.

"We're looking at a very strong relationship with them and one that we expect to grow over time," Gillman said.

Precision Genomics is the only end-to-end service of its kind in the country, according to officials. At the St. George lab, the genetic makeup of a patient's advanced cancer is analyzed and then a team of molecular tumor specialists prepare a targeted treatment plan to improve the quality and length of a patient's life.

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Sandra Olney

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