One of the world’s leading experts in classifying and targeting specific cancers, Dr. Bruce Horten, will kick off Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Signature Lecture Series on Nov. 29. His presentation will cover a revolutionary cancer therapy based on a patient’s genetic makeup.

The title of the free lecture is “Targets: Transforming the Assault on Cancer.” It scheduled for 7 p.m. in Hatfield Hall Theater on the campus.

Horten, the national medical director for Genzyme Genetics since 2004, oversees the strategic development of Genzyme’s oncology business and spearheads educational initiatives concerning cancer-related issues. He also has served as medical director of IMPATH’s Eastern Division, and served on the pathology staffs of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the University of California at San Francisco and Lenox Hill Hospital.

Recently, Horten discussed with Rose-Hulman students developments in cancer diagnosis and predictive treatment during an interactive Internet video conference.

Using a new technology, nicknamed FISH (Fluorescent in Situ Hybridization), cancer researchers today are able to literally “fish” for chromosomal abnormalities — deletions in DNA that can cause cancer.

“By studying these abnormalities,” states Horten, “we have also become more adept at identifying the specific form of cancer and targeting a drug that is disease specific in order to weaken the cancer without also weakening the health of the individual cancer patient.”

Ever since the complete mapping of the human genome was completed in 2003, the science of pathogenetics, which investigates the genetic variations underlying tumor development and progression, has advanced from simple classification of cancers to predictive analysis and therapy.

Horten states: “In the 21st century the entire approach to cancer therapy has changed, especially the cancer drugs, from poisoning the patient, with the hope that you will poison the cancer more than the patient, to finding drugs that are relatively harmless to the patient, but toxic to the cancer.”

Bill Kline, PhD., Rose-Hulman’s Dean of Innovation and Engagement, adds, “Engineers are becoming ever more important in the field of medicine. Biotechnologists, computer and software engineers, and chemical engineers are just a few of the specialties involved in helping medical doctors make these astounding breakthroughs.”

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