New Jersey healthcare system invests in new partnership, bringing precision medicine to its oncology patients
Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) has recently announced a new partnership that leaders there believe will enhance its ability to detect and treat cancers using precision medicine. The new partnership with Genomic Testing Cooperative (GTC), a privately-owned molecular testing company located in Irvine, California, establishes a genomic profiling reference laboratory for HMH, a network of healthcare providers headquartered in Edison, New Jersey, with 17 hospitals, including three academic medical centers.
“The technologies we are spearheading with the laboratory put us on the forefront of cancer care and research,” stated Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, as part of the announcement.
While the stated goal of the newly created Anthology Diagnostics Laboratory is generating personalized, precise, and real-time insights for cancer patients and the physicians caring for them, genomic profiling tests have been useful in identifying genetic alterations in tumors. As a result, tumor profiling tests are increasingly influencing patient care.
Said Maher Albitar, MD, Founder, CEO, and CMO at Genetic Testing Cooperative, collaborating with Hackensack Meridian Health through this reference laboratory “offers sophisticated high-quality molecular testing to strengthen the practice of precision medicine and drive innovation through research and development. This collaboration will allow GTC to co-develop new tests with Hackensack Meridian Health utilizing real world clinical and outcomes data.”
Building a Network of Genomic Laboratories
To position Genomic Testing Cooperative, which operates as a limited cooperative association (LCA), is to recall that in early November 2018, GTC announced its offering of multiple laboratory-developed genomic profiling tests for hematologic and solid tumors using next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology.
GTC announced these tests as part of its co-op model, a “first of its kind platform for cooperation between commercial, hospital-based, and academic laboratories.” This co-op structure allows the member laboratories to share resources and to participate in technological innovation and determining the type of tests being developed, according to a news release at that time.
These developments come as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been evaluating the usefulness of comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) for some time now. With this partnership development, there is potential for more widespread adoption of CGP assays for evaluating hematologic and solid tumors. One of the potential benefits of CGP is that it consolidates biomarker detection into a single multiplex assay.
How Hackensack Meridian Health Says It Will Use Genomic Profiling
According to Hackensack Meridian Health, the system will use this genomic profiling laboratory to:
- Confirm diagnoses of cancer.
- Understand the molecular subtype of a cancer, allowing for a better understanding of how the disease will progress and how it will be treated.
- Identify drivers of cancer growth, including genetic mutations that would not be recognized through other testing methods.
- Understand patients’ prognosis and how aggressive specific subtypes of a cancer will be.
- Monitor responses to therapy, allowing for treatment adjustments to be performed more quickly than would typically be possible.
- Detect relapse earlier, before it could be recognized by imaging or by symptoms it causes.
- Refine patient selection for clinical trials based on the genetic makeup of their cancer.
The expected outcome of this partnership is to significantly impact the health and well-being of the cancer patients that Hackensack Meridian Health treats.
Paired DNA and RNA Profiling: Why
One of the advantages of this new reference laboratory is that it will offer both DNA and RNA sequencing, allowing for a broader application for the principles of precision medicine.
“Paired DNA and RNA profiling is increasingly recognized as the new standard in precision medicine, and GTC is leading the way in the development of clinical applications for this approach,” said Andre Goy, MD, Physician-in-Chief for Oncology at Hackensack Meridian Health.
“Although we are currently using genomic information for diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making, we have only touched the surface in terms of how this technology can be applied,” Goy explained. “The collaboration between Hackensack Meridian Health and GTC will facilitate the translation of this technology to everyday patient care more quickly—not only at our institution, but along the entire East Coast.”
The agreement between Hackensack Meridian Health and Genomic Testing Cooperative, LCA, highlights the fact that precision medicine partnerships, collaborations, and projects will proliferate as evidence increases around integrating personalized insights into clinical care. Although this agreement is in its early stages, what is learned from the collaboration will be useful for hospital and health system leaders who are evaluating precision medicine approaches.