Fighting Cancer Together

The American Society of Clinical Oncology recently wrapped up its annual meeting, bringing together health care professionals focused on the fight against cancer. The five days were packed with mind-expanding science and encouraging updates on new efforts for research collaboration between doctors, scientists, advocates, and, most importantly, patients themselves.

23andMe’s Dr. Kim Barnholt, the project manager for both our Sarcoma and Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN) research communities, got to present some of the highlights of 23andMe’s work on sarcoma, which is all about collaboration.

But the conference also allowed members of our MPN and Sarcoma Advisory Panels to talk about some of their latest work, bringing home how lucky we are to have them working with us. They all have impeccable standing in the community of oncologists and cancer researchers.

One of the highlights of the whole conference was Dr. Demetri’s talk on the “Dynamics of Partnerships between Professionals and Patient Online Communities to Accelerate Clinical Research and Improve Care.” For 23andMe, the theme is at the heart of what we call our “research revolution.” Dr. Demetri, who is a charismatic forward thinker, talked about how “interactive social networking models offer great potential to increase meaningful partnerships between patients, caregivers, family and friends, and health care professionals.”

Dr. Demetri used 23andMe’s Sarcoma Research Initiative as an important example of crowdsourcing that integrates the patient’s experience and voice into research and clinical care. This also got to another theme of the conference that marks a change from the old approach to medicine involving a one-way line of communication from doctor down to patient. Clearly this approach is no longer acceptable, and the conference highlighted how online tools and social media have helped to change that dynamic as well as offer new opportunities for collaboration.

“This type of research could not be done in traditional ways,” Dr. Demetri said.

Demetri, whose work on our advisory board is unpaid, said the research model pioneered by 23andMe, “can be extrapolated to (the study of) other common diseases as molecular profiling divides all cancers into subsets of rare diseases.”

We think so too and are encouraged by the progress and promise our research communities can offer.

We look forward to sharing even more of our findings as our research initiatives progress.