Ushering In the Era of Precision Medicine

Meet Dr. Brian Druker
Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, proved it was possible to develop drugs that could target just the malfunctioning part of a cell that is causing cancer to grow.

Paradigm shift in cancer treatment

Brian Druker, M.D., was a catalyst in the paradigm shift in cancer treatment. Druker proved it was possible to treat cancer by targeting only the parts of a cell that are malfunctioning to drive cancer’s growth. This approach differed from chemotherapies which indiscriminately killed all fast growing cells.

The drug that resulted from Druker’s research work, Gleevec®,  has changed the course of countless lives.

It was initially approved in record time in 2001 for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It has since been proven effective for 10 types of cancer diagnosis.

Options for patients expand

Gleevec’s success also spurred development of other similar precision therapies of which there are more than 100 in development or clinicial trials today.

Druker is continuing to build upon that scientific success. More fully understanding the root, or molecular, causes of cancer, led to precision treatments such as Gleevec.

The next logical step on this continuum is to use this understanding of cancer to advance early detection. Cancer is most treatable when it’s caught early.  But tools for cancer detection haven’t evolved along with treatments. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute has identified this area as the largest unmet need in cancer care today.

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute's vision for early detection

Ken Burns’ PBS series, Cancer, shares the story of how OHSU helped revolutionize cancer treatment

Ken Burns’ documentary series, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. The film tells the comprehensive story of the disease from its first description in an ancient Egyptian scroll to today’s research laboratories. It interweaves the history of the disease’s impact with patients’ stories and includes an update on scientific breakthroughs and discovery efforts.

Watch the documentary
Twitter chat recap #CancerFilm

Gleevec has been helping patients for more than a decade.

Read more about two patients impacted by the groundbreaking treatment.

LaDonna and Dr. Druker

LaDonna Lopossa had given up hope for treatment when her husband stumbled upon a newspaper story about a clinical trial for Gleevec. The drug changed the course of her life. 

Read more about Ladonna’s story.

edEd McLaughlin had just run a half-marathon and ridden his bicycle 100 miles roughly a week before being diagnosed with CML in 2008. He connected with Dr. Druker, started taking Gleevec and has since run several marathons. 

Read more about Ed’s story.

Gleevec’s scientific impact is continuing to pay off. It’s human impact is counted in new birthdays. Watch videos of patients helped by Gleevec

OHSU teams with Intel to decode the root causes of cancer

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Intel Corp. teamed up in 2013 to develop next-generation computing technologies that advance the field of personalized medicine by dramatically increasing the speed, precision and cost-effectiveness of analyzing a patient’s individual genetic profile. Through a multi-year research and engineering collaboration, engineers and scientists from the two institutions are developing hardware, software and workflow solutions for Intel’s extreme-scale, high-performance computing solutions. This new level of computational horsepower seeks to make strides in addressing one of the biggest challenges in personalized medicine: how to cope with the unprecedented volume of complex biomedical data it generates.

Decoding the root causes of cancer

Watch Knight Cancer leaders share their vision for a collaboration with Intel Corporation to deploy next-generation computing technologies to advance the field of precision medicine

The collaboration combines Intel’s strengths in extreme-scale computing capable of handling billions of complex computations simultaneously with OHSU’s innovative four-dimensional approach in imaging and analyzing the molecular-level drivers of cancer and other diseases. OHSU’s imaging techniques work like a Google map for cancer by providing a highly detailed view of how cells change over time at the molecular level along with a big-picture analysis of how the cells behave as a system.

Learn more about the collaboration.