The next steps in next-gen sequencing of cancer genomes

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The necessary infrastructure to carry out genomics-driven oncology is now widely available and has resulted in the exponential increase in characterized cancer genomes. While a subset of genomic alterations is clinically actionable, the majority of somatic events remain classified as variants of unknown significance and will require functional characterization. A careful cataloging of the genomic alterations and their response to therapeutic intervention should allow the compilation of an “actionability atlas” and the creation of a genomic taxonomy stratified by tumor type and oncogenic pathway activation. The next phase of genomic medicine will therefore require talented bioinformaticians, genomic navigators, and multidisciplinary approaches to decode complex cancer genomes and guide potential therapy. Equally important will be the ethical and interpretable return of results to practicing oncologists. Finally, the integration of genomics into clinical trials is likely to speed the development of predictive biomarkers of response to targeted therapy as well as define pathways to acquired resistance.

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