Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center and Quest Diagnostics, a provider of diagnostic information services, have formed a joint collaboration that will utilize MSK's clinical and research insights into gene mutations associated with solid tumors.
The goal is to use molecular laboratory testing to improve physicians' ability to treat patients with breast, prostate, colon, lung and a variety of other solid tumor cancers by giving them a better understanding of the genomic underpinnings of their patients' illnesses.
In recent years, research has demonstrated that certain gene mutations influence the efficacy of cancer drug therapies, and that a therapy effective for one type of cancer may be effective for other types that share the same gene mutations. MSK has amassed extensive databases of gene mutations linked to various types of cancer and developed pharmaceutical treatments based on scientific literature, treatment of patients by the institution's multidisciplinary teams and clinical trials conducted by MSK researchers and scientists.
MSK will provide contextual information about individual mutations identified as part of Quest's OncoVantage, an independently validated, lab-developed test that enables molecular characterization of solid tumors. Physicians who order OncoVantage will benefit from the MSK data through a co-branded clinical annotation report designed to aid the assessment of a patient's prognosis, as well as to guide treatment selection and to monitor disease progression.
Over time, the two organizations intend to further study and extend the mutation data sets to potentially generate improved diagnostics, in addition to research and clinical trials.
"This relationship will empower clinicians to improve their patients' health by identifying the best therapies for patients today and by identifying specific patients who may benefit from participation in clinical trials. The needs of tomorrow's patients will be addressed by the deeper knowledge base we are building and its potential to drive the basic science needed to discover new therapies," said Craig B. Thompson, M.D., MSK's president and CEO.
"We are excited to offer oncologists and patients everywhere unprecedented access to MSK's knowledge of the role of gene mutations in solid tumors and the therapies most effective in treating them," said Steve H. Rusckowski, president and CEO of Quest Diagnostics. "By combining our broad market reach, which covers half the practicing physicians and hospitals in the U.S., with MSK's deep experience in cancer care and molecular science, we hope to illuminate the best possible cancer treatment options for patients across the country."
Quest's OncoVantage test is performed on tumor biopsies and uses next-generation sequencing technology to assess the most commonly mutated exons in 34 genes. The sequencing data, in de-identified form, will be shared with MSK, which will leverage its databases to correlate specific gene mutations to potential therapies and disease progression applicable to that cancer type.
The second phase of the collaboration between Quest and MSK will involve development of a more far-reaching test by Quest involving potentially hundreds of genes. The expanded test is expected to launch by spring 2015.
MSK recently developed a pioneering test—called MSK-IMPACT, or Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets—that can reliably and accurately screen for mutations in more than 340 genes. Tumors from MSK patients studied thus far have had on average between two and 10 potentially actionable mutations.
In addition, MSK's clinical annotation process will be enhanced by de-identified gene data from Quest's OncoVantage test. The data will be used to extend the range of information used to assess the clinical significance of gene alterations and potential correlations with therapeutic response. This real-time data exchange will enable rapid translation of discoveries into clinically actionable information for managing cancer patients. The two organizations also intend to jointly study, evaluate, and augment the size and scope of the mutation data sets, which have the potential to become more important in scientific research and publication.
Financial terms have not been disclosed.