Health News And Notes

Treating “Untreatable” Cancers: Functional Profiling Comes of Age


(NAPSI)—Over 1.8 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year according to the American Cancer Society. If you or someone you care about is diagnosed with cancer you may be relieved to know there are techniques available that can improve your likelihood of response and survival by using your cancer cells to select the most effective drugs before you receive them.

What Can Help

The process is called functional profiling, which analyzes living cancer cells from a patient to find out the drugs, combinations and sequences that are the most effective and least toxic for each individual. It’s particularly helpful in treating cancers that have been considered “untreatable,” such as pancreatic cancers, advanced lung and recurrent breast cancers. 

Why It Works 

Cancers arise from cells that have learned certain tricks to enhance their survival. In so doing they outlive their normal counterparts. These transformed cells interact directly with their micro-environment. Cancer cells “talk” to each other and to all the surrounding immune cells, blood vessels and structural elements using chemical signals such as growth fac- tors and metabolic byproducts. Blood vessels, immune cells and connective tissues all participate and promote the cancer process. 

Each human cancer reflects all of its genes, both mutated and normal, acting together to create what we recognize as a malignant tumor. But gene changes are only the starting point and not the final product of cancer development. The practice of just analyzing genes is incapable of capturing the complexity of human tumor biology. Only Functional analyses can interrogate each patient’s tumor in real time to provide insights that can inform drug selection and treatment decisions. 

Because each cancer patient is unique and very different from one person to the next, drugs that work for one person may not for another, even with exactly the same diagnosis. Standard trial-and-error approaches cannot meet each patient’s needs. 

Who Developed the Idea 

The pioneer behind this is Los Angeles-based oncologist Dr. Robert Nagourney, author of “Outliving Cancer” and known as the father of precision cancer medicine. His testing of cancer cells against potential drugs offers patients the opportunity to take charge of their cancers and the treatments most likely to work. 

Dr. Nagourney recognized the short comings of modern trial and error cancer medicine and decided to do something about it. Over the past two decades he has amassed data on over 10,000 patients, providing individualized therapies that have been shown to double response rates and improve survival. While major centers continue to offer gene profiles that examine DNA mutations hoping to find a “magic bullet,” those result have been extremely disappointing with a minority of patient’s revealing actionable findings. 

Get Help 

The Nagourney Institute receives samples from all over the world. If you think functional profiling would be good for you, you can arrange to have your sample collected and shipped overnight to the laboratory. The Institute will even assist you with a specimen transportation kit and specific handling instructions. 

Learn More 

For further facts and to arrange for tests, visit

"A technique in cancer treatment, functional profiling, developed by oncologist Dr. Robert Nagourney, analyzes cancer cells to determine which drugs, combinations and sequences are most effective and least harmful for each individual."