Stanford, Intermountain start consortium to use genomic data to better match patients to clinical trials

Another cancer precision medicine initiative has sprung up in response to Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot Initiative. This time, Stanford Cancer Institute, Intermountain Healthcare, Providence Health & Services and Syapse have joined forces to create a consortium to advance cancer care via data sharing and increase access to clinical trials.

Dr. Thomas Brown, executive director of the Swedish Cancer Institute

Dubbed the Oncology Precision Network (OPN), the consortium will share aggregated cancer genomic data through an advanced software platform in order to bring promising treatment insights to patients and physicians, Intermountain Healthcare said in a statement. It builds upon earlier work by the consortium members, including an algorithm developed by Providence, via the Swedish Cancer Institute, that matches patients with clinical trials most likely to benefit their molecular type of cancer.

The majority of cancer patients that aren't treated by major cancer centers miss out on high-volume-based analytics. The OPN will make precision medicine and clinical trials accessible to these previously underserved cancer patients.

"The highest quality cancer care is predicated on clinical trial participation and currently very few cancer patients can access trials that are matched based on the genetic make-up of their cancer," said Dr. Thomas Brown, executive director of the Swedish Cancer Institute and co-chair Providence Health & Services Personalized Medicine Program. "This partnership will further our efforts to provide customized therapies that are based on the biological features of both the patient and their unique cancer."

Dr. Jim Ford, director of clinical cancer genomics at the Stanford Cancer Institute

The consortium's data and physicians span 11 states, 79 hospitals and 800 clinics, with plans to include more health systems later this year. It anticipates it will start with 100,000 data sets in its database. The data sets include information about patient health history, cancer status, treatments, molecular and genetic data, labs and patient outcomes. When it's up and running, the OPN members said, it will impact 50,000 new cancer patients and 200,000 total cancer patients per year. The database will also have more than 1.5 million historical cancer cases. The OPN will use Syapse's technology to link aggregated data between health systems.

"This dynamic network will also allow us to approach precision oncology from a 'big data' point of view," said Dr. Jim Ford, associate professor of medicine (oncology) and genetics at Stanford and director of clinical cancer genomics at the Stanford Cancer Institute. "By aggregating all of our real patient experiences, we will rapidly expand our ability to learn how to choose the best targeted treatments for our cancer patients based on the molecular profile of their tumor and our informatics based research."

Precision medicine has been on the up and up since President Barack Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative and Vice President Biden announced a plan to ramp up cancer R&D. Last week, the NIH granted the Mayo Clinic $42 million to start a biobank as part of the Initiative. And in February this year, data analysis startup Seven Bridges picked up $45 million to fund the ongoing development of its large-scale tools for genomic research.

- here's the statement