Genetic testing and targeted therapy in Ivory Coast

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Published: 19 Jan 2024
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Dr Safiatou Coulibaly - Institute Pasteur De Côte D'ivoire, Adiopodoumé, Ivory Coast

Dr Safiatou Coulibaly talks to ecancer about targeted therapy and drugs in Ivory Coast, the limited testing and the plans in place to make them more accessible.

She goes on to detail the steps already in place including tests, research and cost reduction processes. Dr Coulibaly continues to discuss Africa's great genetic and genomic diversity but lack of representation.

She concludes by discussing what the future holds, the need for funding and the aim to integrate into the larger cancer research networks.

Genetic testing and targeted therapy in Ivory Coast

Dr Safiatou Coulibaly - Institute Pasteur De Côte D'ivoire, Adiopodoumé, Ivory Coast

In Ivory Coast we can have access to targeted therapy drugs but we don’t have access to the tests which allows us to say you have to use this one instead of those ones. Most of the time samples are sent to other countries and what we are trying to do as part of our work is to implement those genetic tests in Ivory Coast to make them more accessible to most of the people in the country.

What work are you doing currently?

Currently we started to implement genetic tests for the detection of KRAS mutation for patients with colorectal cancer. We have different ways to do those tests. Most of the time in our country we are using an NGS solution which is available in Ivory Coast but the cost per population is too high due to our socioeconomical situation.

So we tried to find another way to do the same tests but at a lower price. What we had done for a previous project was to use a two-step mechanism. The first one was to screen patients first with a test at low cost and then if you are positive to the screening you can go through sequencing which is more expensive but still accessible. This is the first part for diagnosis.

But we have another part of our work which is research and we are working on looking for mutations from specific biomarkers which can be used in our context. You know that Africa has the greatest diversity in terms of genetics and genomics but the African population is still underrepresented for further study. Most of them are French-speaking African countries like Côte D'Ivoire. So we want to develop genomic testing and genomic research on our population to find biomarkers that we can use in our context to improve patient care actually.

What do you think the next steps are going to be?

For now we have so many things. We have the implication of the government through different decisions for the cancer fight but we still need funds, we really, really need funds. The world has to say that Africa is not only one country; other countries exist and French-speaking countries are there and need some funds. We have human resources, we have equipment but we need training, we need regimes, we need collaboration in order to go through the cancer burden in Africa.

We need to be integrated into the network. So the next step and the current step we’re at is to participate in all the conferences that we can and to tell the world that we are here, we are existing, we are working and we need to collaborate and to do things to contribute to the understanding of cancer in the world. Because genomic cancer in Africa is not a matter of African people, it’s a matter for the world if we want to understand cancer globally.