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Enabling Precision Oncology Using RNA-Based Information and Technologies


In oncology today, diagnostic technology tools are key to helping scientists unlock the potential of precision medicine, so we were thrilled when Dave Messina, Chief Operating Officer of Cofactor Genomics, agreed to be a guest on The Precision Medicine podcast to talk about the importance of such tools.

The conversation with Dave was a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come—and how far we have to go—in developing and using technology to realize the promise of precision medicine in cancer.

Enabling Precision Oncology Using RNA-Based Information and Technologies - Dave Messina
Listen to the full episode above to learn more and download the transcript here.

Dr. Messina, along with many members of his leadership team at Cofactor Genomics, applied their scientific curiosity to the first Human Genome Project, so he has seen first-hand how diagnostic technologies have evolved and changed over the years. At Cofactor Genomics, Dr. Messina and team use high-throughput technology to decode RNA, which unlike DNA, is constantly changing, making it a real-time barometer of health and a possible indicator of disease.


We were especially interested to hear Dr. Messina’s perspective on how technology is beginning to catch up to the imagination of scientists working to enable precision medicine. In the past, he compared where we are in precision medicine today to pre-internet computers, so I asked him to go a little more in-depth about that analogy and where we are in our current understanding of genomics.


Dr. Messina believes that in the same way we could not have known how personal computers would change our world 30 years ago, we cannot possibly understand just how sophisticated genomic technologies may become or what types of medical breakthroughs they might enable in the future.


In that vein, we specifically discussed the new world of immuno-oncology drugs, which only work in about 30% of patients. Currently, the primary biomarker used to decide which patients might respond is useful, but far from perfect. Dr. Messina says there is now a shift to using multidimensional markers, such as those found in RNA, and combining them with computational models to better understand how a patient might respond to treatment.


This topic led to a discussion about how forward-thinking insurers and regulators will need to shift the way they measure and approve new diagnostic tools, because, as Dr. Messina notes, it's not going to be possible to think in single biomarker terms for much longer.


It was a pleasure to speak to someone who is so committed to creativity in science and innovation in the pursuit of precision medicine.


Listen to the full episode above. 

Download the full transcript here (pdf).


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About Our Guest

Dr. David Messina is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Cofactor Genomics in San Franciso, CA.

Dr. Messina has spent the last 20 years in computational biology and genetics. He worked on the Human Genome Project at Washington University in Saint Louis, mapped disease genes at the University of Chicago, and co-developed the first comprehensive atlas of human transcription factor genes. As COO of Cofactor Genomics, Dr. Messina is pioneering the use of RNA-based diagnostics, enabling personalized treatment for patients.


Twitter: @DaveMessina + @CofactorGenomic


Cofactor's LinkedIn: 




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