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The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is a technophile’s dream: hundreds of companies from around the world gathered last week to display and tout their latest, hottest products. From computers to phones to video games to apps, CES is a dazzling, even overwhelming look at where technology will be taking consumers over the following year and beyond. At first glance, CES seems like an unlikely place for Life Technologies to showcase what we do. But with the addition of the Digital Health Summit in 2010, life sciences companies have become a part of CES. More than 25 companies with a stake in the digital health sector, from technology innovators to health care organizations, were on hand at 2013 Digital Health Summit. And with the growing movement towards personalized medicine, Life Technologies made a big splash at this year’s event talking about the latest technologies in cancer research.

The Digital Health Summit kicked off on Monday, January 8th with an exciting “supersession”, The Digital Health Revolution: Mind, Body and Soul. The panel featured Life’s Head of Oncology, Dave Daly, along with the moderator, noted columnist and media mogul Arianna Huffington; spiritual and physical wellness expert Deepak Chopra, CEO and Co-Founder of Proteus Digital Health Andrew Thompson, UnitedHealth Group’s Chief of Medical Affairs Reed Tuckson, and CEO of Misfit Wearables Sonny Vu. Dave Daly passionately advocated Life’s work with low-cost, high-speed gene sequencing and the impact it’s already having on cancer research, particularly lung cancer – which, he noted, has a higher annual mortality rate than the next four cancers combined. Tools like the Ion Proton, Dave said, will improve patient care “by bringing clarity to the complexities of cancer”. He noted that one of the biggest challenges we face in the fight against cancer is the need to be able to bring sophisticated technology like genome sequencing out of the large research centers and laboratories “to where the patients are – in their communities”.  

The new frontiers of cancer research and treatment were at the heart of Life Technologies’ Head of Medical Science Ronnie Andrews’ keynote address on Tuesday, January 9th. The fight against cancer is very personal for him; in his introduction to a standing room only crowd, he spoke fondly of his grandmother, a cancer patient who inspired him to make a career in the medical sciences. Ronnie gave attendees a quick and fascinating overview of how DNA works, and how sequencing genomes and exosomes can enable doctors to develop treatments that are much more efficient. Calling sequencing a game-changer in the fight against cancer, Ronnie gave compelling stories of individual patients who’d benefitted from the technology. And he gave some glimpses into what we’ll be able to offer health care professionals and their patients in the future, from non-invasive tests for prostate cancer that will save lives by allowing for earlier detection to the opportunity for the Ion Proton to run exosome sequences on breast cancer biopsies. We know that the financial ROI for genome research has been impressive; Ronnie pointed out that the $3.8 billion invested in the Human Genome Project eventually brought a $799 billion increase in the U.S. GDP. But the real return is something that is priceless: the lives that have been and will continue to be saved through the work that Life Technologies does. The fight against cancer is far from over – Ronnie mentioned that we are actually seeing an increase in lung cancers that are not associated with smoking. And he noted that challenges remain, from our ability to process the data that we receive to bringing our products and methods to where they’re needed the most, out in the communities where doctors work and patients live. But his optimism and energy were infectious; he closed by telling the audience that he believed the next five years in cancer research would eclipse the last 50, and judging by their applause, so did the attendees.

Watch a video of Ronnie Andrews being interviewed about sequencing and Cancer Research at the CES Digital Health Summit. 

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