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Avera Joins Global Group Personalizing Cancer Treatment

Kealey Bultena
Casey Williams is Director of Avera Center for Precision Oncology.

Cancer researchers in Sioux Falls are now part of an international group collaborating on personalized treatment. Avera Cancer Institute is one of five American institutions partnering in a consortium referred to as WIN. Doctors say the revelations can help people with cancer at all stages.

Standard cancer treatments are often based on therapies that work for most people. Doctor Brian Leyland-Jones says everyone is different – and so are their cancers. He says tumors have different genes, compositions and signaling pathways.

“We try to look at the cancer in every single platform: DNA, RNA, protein. We also believe in treating very early very aggressively, because that is the point at which you can get cure,” Leyland-Jones says. “Then finally we try to put together combinations of drugs that will close down all of the drivers of that patient’s particular tumor.”

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
Dr. Brian Leyland-Jones says genomic strategies can tranform modern cancer treatments.

Leyland-Jones says the principles Avera’s genomic oncology team holds are the same doctrines of the Worldwide Innovative Networking Consortium. WIN participants are academic, industry, insurance and non-profit research organizations working to make personalized cancer treatment available around the globe. 

Leyland-Jones says the collaboration offers enormous hope for cancer patients.

“Together with WIN, our mission will be to transform cancer,” Leyland-Jones says. “It will be to take patients with early disease and make it disappear. It’ll be to take patients with metastatic disease and give them very long-lasting, multi-year remissions.”

Leyland-Jones says Avera now has access to innovative clinical trials and treatments. He says theories that come from researchers in Sioux Falls now have a global platform.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).