Changing the Lives of Men with Prostate Cancer
Myriad has led the industry in genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer since the launch of BRACAnalysis® in 1996. Since then, we’ve changed the lives of countless patients and their families by helping them to understand their risk of disease. We also have introduced several other pioneering molecular diagnostic tests. In March 2010, Myriad launched Prolaris®, the first genetic prognostic test to assess prostate cancer aggressiveness. When we first started working on prostate cancer, I realized that, while Myriad was making significant inroads in the cancers that affect women, we didn’t have tests specifically for men. So, as a man, I was excited to be investing not only in my future, but in the future of all men with the development of Prolaris.
At Myriad, we try to answer the four most pressing questions patients have about disease:
For prostate cancer, the question we focused on initially was one of disease aggressiveness. The biggest problem with prostate cancer is determining who needs immediate treatment and who doesn’t. Only about one in 40 men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer will die of the disease, so our impetus was to determine which men with early stage prostate cancer needed aggressive treatment and who would be appropriate for active surveillance. Our goal was to differentiate aggressive tumors that needed to be treated with surgery or radiation from tumors that could be treated with more conservative management. And that’s what Prolaris has been able to provide for patients and their physicians – a test that determines whether a prostate cancer is aggressive or not.
In fact, my most satisfying time in the 12 years I have been at Myriad has been my collaboration with the team of extraordinarily talented and committed individuals whose hard work led to the development of Prolaris. I have met a number of patients who have had the Prolaris test, and it is immensely gratifying. We spend a lot of time in labs, with computers and data, and when we have the opportunity to speak to or meet the people who are impacted by the work we do, it’s a very profound and emotional thing. When I think about enabling a man to lead a perfectly normal life because he has a nonaggressive form of prostate cancer – making it possible for him to carry on, run around with his grandchildren or go fishing – that makes me feel incredibly proud.
Three of my four grandparents died of cancer, so I was impacted by cancer from a young age. Cancer is something that impacts so many people in society and is so much a part of the lives of those patients and their families. All of these people want to know that somebody out there is doing their best to find ways to help those who are currently suffering from cancer, or may suffer from it in the future.
I came to Myriad because I believed it was a dynamic place where you could get things done. I wanted to do great science, make discoveries, impact medicine and make a difference in the lives of people with disease. Myriad is a place where we not only do world-class science, but also translate that science into important advances for patients and doctors. What we have done here in the last 20 years has been transformational, and we have only scratched the surface of the medical problems that we can impact. Personalized medicine is poised to revolutionize every field of medicine. In the future, it will become the standard way we think about health and disease and a normal part of the conversation that people have with their doctors. Myriad has a very real role to play in that future.
Jerry Lanchbury, Ph.D. Chief Scientific Officer Myriad Genetics, Inc.