Laying a foundation for hematologic diagnostics

Foundation Medicine, MSKCC to co-develop product that will match patients with targeted therapies or clinical trials for hematologic malignancies

Jim Cirigliano
NEW YORK—Foundation Medicine has announced a partnershipwith Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to co-develop a new moleculardiagnostic product designed to advance care in hematologic cancers by matchingpatients with targeted therapies or clinical trials. The new diagnostic productwill help physicians to identify the most rational treatments and trials thatbest fit an individual patient's disease type.
 
 
The product will be developed based upon the technology,methodology and computational algorithms developed by Foundation Medicine.MSKCC will help to accelerate the development and optimization of thediagnostic test through its significant clinical and genomic expertise in thefield of hematologic malignancies. Foundation Medicine will be responsible forcommercializing the test in the United States and internationally. Financialterms of the partnership were not disclosed.
 
Although details of the new test could not be disclosedbecause it remains under development, it is being billed as the first broadtest that will use RNA and DNA sequencing to allow physicians to offer targetedtreatments for their patients with any type of hematologic cancer. The new testis expected to be ready for release by the end of 2013.
 
 
Foundation Medicine's first clinical product, FoundationOne,is a fully informative genomic tumor profile that complements traditionalcancer treatment decision tools and helps to match each patient with targetedtherapies that are relevant to the molecular changes in their tumor. Usingnext-generation sequencing data and computational biology, the product is ableto detect alterations in any of hundreds of genes associated with cancer.According to the FoundationOne website, it is the first commercially availabletargeted sequencing assay using clinical-grade next-generation sequencing inroutine cancer specimens. More than 1,000 oncologists have used FoundationOnesince its launch in June 2012. 
 
It is expected that FoundationOne and the new product beingdeveloped collaboratively with MSKCC will offer similar functionality, and thatthe two tools will be complementary to one another once completed.
 
 
Similar to FoundationOne, the new test is being developed touse RNA sequencing in addition to DNA sequencing to help identify the uniquegenes and classes of genomic alterations that are common to hematologicmalignancies. Like its forerunner, the new product will be used to enablephysicians to quickly gauge which classes of genomic alternations are presentin their patients' cancer, which alterations are actionable and what relevantdrugs and targeted treatment options are currently on the market that may berelevant to the patient's genomic profile based on a comprehensive review ofpublished literature.
 
 
"We will be co-developing the first ever genomic diagnosticpanel for hematologic malignancies—enabling our patients to get the treatmentthat's most relevant for their particular tumor," says Christine Hickey,director at MSKCC.  
 
The partnership between Foundation Medicine and MSKCCdeveloped out of conversations between Foundation's CEO Dr. Michael J. Pelliniand Dr. Gregory Raskin, the executive director of MSKCC's Office of TechnologyDevelopment. A number of collaborative meetings continued between Foundationexecutives and MSKCC CEO Craig Thompson and a number of key faculty membersfrom various departments including hemetology-oncology, pediatrics and pathology.  
 
"We believe this will vault us to the forefront ofpersonalized medicine in liquid tumors," says Hickey. "This allows us todeliver state-of-the-art genomics in clinical trials and in clinical care atMSKCC."
 
 
Foundation Medicine is a molecular information companydedicated to a transformation in cancer care in which treatment is informed bya deep understanding of the genomic changes that contribute to each patient'sunique cancer. Foundation Medicine operates a CLIA-certified lab in Cambridge,Mass., and receives clinical patient samples from academic medical centers andcommunity hospitals around the world.
 
MSKCC is the world's oldest and largest private institutiondevoted to prevention, patient care, research and education in cancer.  It is one of 41 National CancerInstitute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, with state-of-the-artscience flourishing side by side with clinical studies and treatment.

Jim Cirigliano

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