Laying a foundation for hematologic diagnostics
June 2013
by Jim Cirigliano  |  Email the author


NEW YORK—Foundation Medicine has announced a partnership with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to co-develop a new molecular diagnostic product designed to advance care in hematologic cancers by matching patients with targeted therapies or clinical trials. The new diagnostic product will help physicians to identify the most rational treatments and trials that best 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 the diagnostic test through its significant clinical and genomic expertise in the field of hematologic malignancies. Foundation Medicine will be responsible for commercializing the test in the United States and internationally. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
Although details of the new test could not be disclosed because it remains under development, it is being billed as the first broad test that will use RNA and DNA sequencing to allow physicians to offer targeted treatments for their patients with any type of hematologic cancer. The new test is 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 traditional cancer treatment decision tools and helps to match each patient with targeted therapies that are relevant to the molecular changes in their tumor. Using next-generation sequencing data and computational biology, the product is able to detect alterations in any of hundreds of genes associated with cancer. According to the FoundationOne website, it is the first commercially available targeted sequencing assay using clinical-grade next-generation sequencing in routine cancer specimens. More than 1,000 oncologists have used FoundationOne since its launch in June 2012.
It is expected that FoundationOne and the new product being developed collaboratively with MSKCC will offer similar functionality, and that the two tools will be complementary to one another once completed.  
Similar to FoundationOne, the new test is being developed to use RNA sequencing in addition to DNA sequencing to help identify the unique genes and classes of genomic alterations that are common to hematologic malignancies. Like its forerunner, the new product will be used to enable physicians to quickly gauge which classes of genomic alternations are present in their patients' cancer, which alterations are actionable and what relevant drugs and targeted treatment options are currently on the market that may be relevant to the patient's genomic profile based on a comprehensive review of published literature.  
"We will be co-developing the first ever genomic diagnostic panel for hematologic malignancies—enabling our patients to get the treatment that's most relevant for their particular tumor," says Christine Hickey, director at MSKCC.  
The partnership between Foundation Medicine and MSKCC developed out of conversations between Foundation's CEO Dr. Michael J. Pellini and Dr. Gregory Raskin, the executive director of MSKCC's Office of Technology Development. A number of collaborative meetings continued between Foundation executives and MSKCC CEO Craig Thompson and a number of key faculty members from various departments including hemetology-oncology, pediatrics and pathology.  
"We believe this will vault us to the forefront of personalized medicine in liquid tumors," says Hickey. "This allows us to deliver state- of-the-art genomics in clinical trials and in clinical care at MSKCC."  
Foundation Medicine is a molecular information company dedicated to a transformation in cancer care in which treatment is informed by a deep understanding of the genomic changes that contribute to each patient's unique cancer. Foundation Medicine operates a CLIA-certified lab in Cambridge, Mass., and receives clinical patient samples from academic medical centers and community hospitals around the world.
MSKCC is the world's oldest and largest private institution devoted to prevention, patient care, research and education in cancer.  It is one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, with state-of-the-art science flourishing side by side with clinical studies and treatment.
Code: E061323

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