Clinical OMICS

MAR-APR 2018

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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Page 45 of 51

Precision Medicine 44 Clinical OMICs March/April 2018 I t's easy to be optimistic about the future of cancer treatment these days. New drugs and genomic meth- ods for more accurately targeting the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time bolster this view. How- ever, the vast majority of precision cancer therapies today are provided academic research hospitals health networks that are primarily located in major metropolitan areas. Conversely, the bulk of cancer care is delivered out- side these major markets and in rural areas, leading many to worry whether these advances will ever reach the rest of the country. But how can precision medicine be brought to smaller oncology practices and rural hospitals where both time and money are in short supply? How can oncologists outside the major can- cer centers tap into the specialized world of genomic cancer care? And how will the genomic testing be made available to cancer patients, when many insurers both public and private won't pay for the? Those are questions a year-old initia- tive called the Maine Cancer Genom- ics Initiative (MCGI) is hoping to answer. MCGI spans the entire state of Maine and is the brain- child of Edison Liu, M.D., CEO of The Jack- son Laboratory (JAX). It is funded by roughly $12 million from JAX and an $8.4 million grant from the Maine-based Harold Alfond Foundation. MCGI's mission is to provide 1,800 genomic tests, free of charge, to cancer patients across the state to help inform treatment deci- sions. The initiative is also serving as a petri dish of sorts to uncover poten- tial methods for establishing a de-cen- tralized model of care that can bring the latest in cancer care to areas not currently participating in the genomic medicine revolution. "The challenge is health disparities. In the U.S. we have one of the greatest medical systems in the world, except most people don't have access to it," said Liu. "It is an implementation problem that we have, and I take what might have been considered a defi- cit of being in a rural, geographically dispersed state that has some very significant economic challenges, as an opportunity to experiment in what I consider to be the next important phase of genomic medicine." While JAX might seem a surprise player to be leading such a program, Liu considers this an advantage for potentially identifying a new care model since JAX doesn't "have the institutional baggage" as established medical centers. The program tested its first patient in July, 2017, and since then has enrolled more than 110 patients. Genomic sequencing is provided by the JAX genomics facility in Farmington, CT, using its ActionSeq Plus, a targeted panel of 212 cancer related genes and 53 genes known to form fusions. Data As Maine Goes… MCGI Tests Innovative Statewide Genomic Cancer Treatment Model By Chris Anderson KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

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