June 28, 2012 // By: Jennifer Lankheim
According to the World Health Organization, 11 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year. Nearly 8 million die. It’s estimated that, by 2020, the annual number of cancer diagnoses will exceed 16 million. Chances are, you will know cancer up close.
SAP HANA, SAP AG’s implementation of in-memory database technology, marked its first birthday last week. The company hopes it is the first of many such celebrations, both because SAP HANA is key to its strategy and because, like the American Cancer Society, which dubs itself the official sponsor of birthdays, SAP HANA is helping doctors develop effective treatments against the disease.
Cancer is a generic description of more than 100 conditions related to the uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. Whether inherited or induced by environmental factors, growth of these atypical cells is associated with multiple and specific changes in DNA – changes that are not completely understood. In other words, we don’t know exactly what causes cancer. But, to save lives, we may not need to.
A method known as Translational Cancer Research (TCR) uses information gathered in laboratory investigations, clinical trials, and population studies to develop clinical applications that reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality – independent of our knowledge of the disease’s natural history. In TCR, researchers analyze data generated from DNA gene sequencing (imaging and “interrogating” human genomes to extract meaningful patterns) and proteomics (the study of the structures and function of proteins). These findings are integrated with clinical data generated when cancer patients undergo diagnostic and therapeutic procedures like imaging studies, blood work, and biopsies. Researches use the amalgamated data to better understand the underlying mechanisms of cancer, and to guide development of preventions and interventions optimized for each patient’s genetic and clinical profile – true, personalized medicine.