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Bruce Horten, Renowned Cancer Scientist, Addresses Students in Video Conference

November 8, 2012

by Mike Davids, Director of Marketing

 Dr. Bruce Horten    
Dr. Horten via video conference (left) with students, Dr. Bill Kline (lower rt.)
and Dr. Phil Cornwell (far rt.)

Dr. Bruce Horten, M.D., the National Medical Director for Genzyme Genetics and one of the world's leading experts in classifying and targeting specific cancers, discussed with Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students the recent developments in cancer diagnosis and predictive treatment during a recent 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," says Dr. 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 progressed from simple classification of cancers to predictive analysis and therapy. 

Horten says: "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."

This special teleconference for Rose-Hulman students and faculty was a preview of an upcoming campus visit that Dr. Horten will make on November 29. He will visit with professors and students, and deliver an evening public lecture in the Hatfield Hall Theater.