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Whole exome sequencing predicts whether patients respond to cancer immunotherapy

Immunotherapies, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, have transformed the treatment of advanced stage cancers. Unlike chemotherapies that kill cancer cells, these drugs help the body’s immune system to find and destroy cancer cells themselves. Unfortunately, only a subset of patients responds long-term to immune checkpoint inhibitors — and these treatments can come at a high cost and with side effects. Researchers have developed a two-step approach using whole exome sequencing to zero in on genes and pathways that predict whether cancer patients will respond to immunotherapy. The study, published in Nature Communications and conducted by researchers at New York University, Weill Cornell Medicine, and the New York Genome Center, illustrates how the use of whole exome sequencing can better predict treatment response than current laboratory tests.

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