Techna 2013: Technology for Personalized Cancer Medicine

The Techna 2013 symposium focused on Technology for Personalized Cancer Medicine (PCM), bringing together researchers, members of industry, patient advocate, clinicians, and policy experts. PCM promises to revolutionize cancer treatment by matching an individual’s particular disease to the best treatment option. Many advances have been made in PCM research by identifying genetic and protein markers that indicate risk and distinguish between cancer sub-types. However, the variable nature of cancer means that even patients with similar genetic profiles—even subregions of a tumour—can have different sensitivities to drug and radiation therapies. New imaging, detection, analysis, and treatment technologies may be the key to enabling effective and economical PCM.

Dr. Jaffray and the organizing team invited speakers from clinical practice, research, policy, and industry to give presentations on the current state-of-the-art and future directions for effective PCM, with discussions organized into sessions focusing on the cancer signal: how to measure it, analyze it, and act on it. The symposium was designed to facilitate multidisciplinary discussions and to foster partnerships and collaborations, building on those talks, to explore the benefits and challenges of technology for PCM. Videos of the presentations, as well as a debate between Drs. Nicole Mittmann and Jeffrey Hoch on whether we can execute on PCM without blowing the budget are available on the Techna Symposium website.

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When the attendees were polled prior to the debates, most believed that “yes, we can execute on personalized cancer medicine.” Following the in-depth discussion of the costs and challenges facing execution and implementation, many changed their opinion to leave the vote split.

Techna 2013 was a great success, generating excitement amongst stakeholders and building collaborations between the participants. The sharing of advances across disciplines and aligning leaders from different specialties that happened at the symposium represent taking the first steps towards moving recent discoveries into practice, and identifying the implementation barriers that the next round of collaborative research projects will need to address.

Presentations

Videos of the presentations can be viewed from the Techna Symposium website.

Photos from Techna 2013