The Economist, September 12, 2011

Anel Potti, Joseph Nevins and their colleagues at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, garnered widespread attention in 2006. They reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that they could predict the course of a patient's lung cancer using devices called expression arrays, which log the activity patterns of thousands of genes in a sample of tissue as a colourful picture. A few months later, they wrote in Nature Medicine that they had developed a similar technique which used gene expression in laboratory cultures of cancer cells, known as cell lines, to predict which chemotherapy would be most effective for an individual patient suffering from lung, breast or ovarian cancer. At the time, this work looked like a tremendous advance for personalised medicine--the idea that understanding the molecular specifics of an individual's illness will lead to a tailored treatment.

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