Precision Medicine: How Phoenix Children's is translating genetic code into lifesaving treatments

- When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it can be emotionally overwhelming. At Phoenix Children’s, more than 300 children were diagnosed with pediatric cancer last year. The good news is, with 50 percent of these children involved in clinical trials, cure rates have jumped to 90 percent for most types of pediatric leukemia.

Jessica Boklan, MD is the director of clinical oncology research and the Early Drug Development Program, and co-director of the Leukemia Program at Phoenix Children's. She supervises all oncology clinical trials carried out at the hospital, concentrating on evaluating new drugs for patients who do not respond to currently available pediatric cancer treatments.

A new and innovative treatment, known as precision medicine, has surfaced within the past few years. Precision, or personalized, medicine uses genetic information to determine the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. By studying a patient's genetic makeup, researchers can identify their susceptibility to disease, predict their response to a particular drug and match the patient with a personalized therapy.

In May 2016, Hannah and Brooklyn were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, cancer of the blood. The girls received their diagnosis one day apart from each other. Under the care of Dr. Boklan, they receive treatment one to two times each week at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children’s. Since their diagnosis, Hannah and Brooklyn, as well as their families, have become the best of friends.

The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children's Hospital is the largest pediatric program of its kind in Arizona, providing complete care for children diagnosed with malignancies and hematologic diseases. Call (602) 933-0920 for information.

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