DNA analysis involves extracting a DNA sample from blood, tumors or other biosamples containing microbes (bacteria and fungi) to identify key genetic sequences and mutations. By analyzing the unique genetic code found in these DNA samples, our team can more rapidly arrive at the best diagnoses, tailor treatments and personalize care.

Our leading-edge Molecular Diagnostics laboratory has been performing DNA analysis for a variety of diseases and conditions for decades. We have employed PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing in the detection of single gene variations for specific biomarkers such as KRAS, a genetic mutation involved in colorectal, pancreatic and other cancers. These studies provide more information regarding a tumor, permitting the use of specific chemotherapies that target these altered genes and lead to better patient outcomes. We also use PCR to quickly detect and characterize various infectious diseases such influenza, pertussis, MRSA and other antimicrobial resistance factors. Prompt diagnoses expedite treatment of these infections. 

Expanding our capabilities in personalized medicine, NorthShore recently launched more comprehensive molecular profiling of tumors. Using cutting-edge Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), we can now more easily identify numerous mutations in many more tumor types than previously possible. 

Always at the leading-edge of individualized patient care, the lab is in the midst of setting up innovative pharmacogenomic testing. An emerging area of medicine, pharmacogenomics involves genetic profiling of the genes that play a key role in drug metabolism. Individual variations in these genes predict how patients respond to drugs, including predisposition to certain adverse effects. Ultimately, this novel approach aims to ensure each patient gets the right dose of the right drug the first time.

By studying the genome, our physician scientists are developing novel methodologies to calculate a patient’s risk for a variety of disease conditions, including:

The potential to apply preventive medicine strategies at the earliest possible stages of disease development offers endless opportunities for improving healthcare.

Other examples of how NorthShore is ahead of the curve when comes to using genomic analysis to enhance patient care include:

Cancer | Cardiovascular Care | Infectious Disease 

Cancer

The impact that the Center for Personalized Medicine will have to our knowledge and understanding of cancer diagnosis, progression and treatment is significant. By sequencing both the tumor and genome gathered from a blood sample, our experts can determine key biomarkers to help drive the most effective, personalized treatment plan. A better understanding of the cancer gives our physicians the ability to not only predict, but also tailor therapies and medications based on a patient’s unique needs.

NorthShore is one of the only institutions in the Chicago area (and one of the few in the county) currently utilizing genomic information from lung, colorectal, brain, thyroid, endometrial, melanoma, prostate and other cancers to develop personalized treatment plans. This same process will be expanded across other cancers and conditions in the years to come. 

Our team of oncology experts is currently involved in molecular research and applying key findings the following types of cancer:

  • Lung, head and neck
  • Thyroid
  • Brain
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Breast
  • Prostate

Cardiovascular Care

  • Heart disease and other conditions—An individual’s unique genes can inform our team of which medication will work best to prevent various heart conditions including stroke, heart attack and blood clots. Gene-drug-based analysis gives our experts the ability to determine, for example, which blood thinner will metabolize best for each individual patient thus reducing toxicity and improving care. 

Infectious Disease

  • Infections—By identifying the exact viral or bacterial infection—such as influenza, C-difficile or MRSA—through DNA testing, our team can determine which treatment option will be most effective to eliminate it. Gene testing lets us know if an infection is resistant to antibiotics or not. This level of diagnostic testing increases patient safety, better controls infections and leads to a more timely diagnosis.
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