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Proactive, personalized cancer medicine at UC Irvine


Imagine a time when the exact patterns of our human DNA, coupled with a DNA sequence of our particular tumor (cancer), could be matched with optimal patient treatment and outcomes. That time is here at UC Irvine.

We have launched a unique program that brings next-generation gene sequencing and other advanced genomic testing to help cancer patients by identifying treatable gene alterations and add counseling, options and analysis to their disease treatment. 

Under the Proactive Personalized Cancer Medicine program led by Dr. Dan Mercola, UC Irvine Health patients can proactively store samples of primary tumors (removed in surgery or during other procedures) in a tissue biorepository bank for use in genetic testing. The program is a joint effort of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

The pathology department’s Research Services Core will securely bank remnants of tissue (both normal and tumor) resected from UC Irvine Health cancer patients for a one-time subscription fee of $350, renewable annually. Remnant tissue is the residual portion of a surgical specimen following processing for diagnostic purposes. Patients also have the option to donate excess tissue from recent or forthcoming surgeries for future research purposes.

Patients who sign a consent form for the program also authorize UC Irvine Health to obtain peripheral blood samples (serum and DNA) and perform clinical follow-up. Gene sequencing of the blood and tissue samples are conducted by Complete Genomics Inc. Bioinformatics analysis is provided by UC Irvine investigators and the Hyundai Cancer Research Institute of CHOC Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Sequencing results are entered into each patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) for on-the-spot patient care decisions, as well as reports to assist with genetic counseling.

Patients who fail standard-of-care therapy at any time following their surgery will be able to have any recurrent tumor biopsied and included in their sequencing program. The results will be compared with the information about the primary tumor to devise personalized treatment.

Interested patients may inquire about the program or enroll by contacting Dr. Mercola at dmercola@uci.edu or at 949-824-1298. Investigators may request access to tissue and blood samples, as well as clinical data, from Dr. Mercola. The PPCM program operates under the direction of Dr. Mercola and Drs. Michael McClelland and Frank Meyskens. 

PPCM advisory board members include:

Pierre Baldi, PhD
Chancellor’s Professor, Department of Computer Science
Director, Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics

Chung Lee, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Interim Director, prostate SPORE, Northwestern University

Philip Carpenter, MD
Professor of Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Director, Division of Anatomical Pathology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Fritz Lin, MD
Interim chair and professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Elizabeth Chao, MD
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Clinical Director, Ambry Genetics Corporation, Aliso Viejo, CA

Michael McClelland, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Scientific Director, Vaccine Research Institute, San Diego

Ralph V. Clayman, MD
Dean, School of Medicine
Professor, Department of Urology

Dan Mercola, MD, PhD, FCAP
Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Medical Director, Biorepository and Proactive Personalized Cancer Medicine

Atreya Dash, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor, Urology

Frank L. Meyskens Jr., MD
Vice-Dean, School of Medicine

Robert Edwards, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Director, Research Resources, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Director, Experimental Tissue Resource, CFCCC

Leonard Sender, MD
Director, Clinical Oncology Services, Department of Medicine
Director, Oncology, Children’s Hospital of Orange County