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OICR Researcher Receives Genome Canada Award to Develop Software for Personalized Medicine

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) recently announced that Dr. Lincoln Stein, OICR’s Program Leader, Informatics and Bio-computing, has been awarded $250,000 through Genome Canada’s Bioinformatics and Computational Biology competition, in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Dr. Stein and his colleague Dr. Guanming Wu, aim to develop software that will improve the treatment of cancer patients by enabling physicians to study and visualize the genomic aberrations of individual patients. It will help identify genes related to cancers and other diseases.

Cancer is a disease caused by the accumulation of multiple genetic mutations. Highly specific drugs that target mutated proteins in cancer cells are currently being used to treat the disease. However, since cancer patients have different mutation profiles, a drug that is effective in one may not have the same result in another. Personalized medicine based on genomic data would allow doctors to determine the best targeted therapy for each patient.

“One of OICR’s research priorities is to use personalized medicine to optimize patient treatment decisions,” said Dr. Tom Hudson, OICR’s President and Scientific Director. “This project will be of great value to patients because it will link genomic pathway and network patterns to clinical information such as likelihood of cancer metastasis, recurrence, drug sensitivity and patient overall survival.”

“This project will improve clinical care for individuals with cancer,” said Dr. Mark Poznansky, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics Institute. “Understanding the genetic differences between individuals allows for personalized approaches to medicine, which will have a significant impact on health care in Ontario and the world. OGI is proud to support this important work by Drs. Stein and Wu.”

Source: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

NCQA to Test Pioneering Way to Measure Quality, Foster Wider Use of Prevention Strategies

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently announced a new approach to measuring quality that will provide a more sensitive gauge of risk factors and make it possible to create clinically meaningful incentives for providers to improve disease prevention.

Under a grant from RWJF, NCQA will evaluate a new measurement tool that focuses on improving the health outcomes of patients with heart disease and diabetes. The “Global Cardiovascular Risk” (GCVR) score, which is being co-developed by NCQA and Archimedes, Inc., is the “next generation” quality improvement tool that measures how well providers reduce the risk of future adverse outcomes—such as heart attacks, strokes, and diabetic complications—in the populations they serve. GCVR is also a powerful new use of electronic health records (EHRs), drawing upon clinical information from EHRs to provide the data needed to assess improvement in preventing bad outcomes.

“This new tool has the potential to become the first customized, outcomes-based electronic health record measure used by Medicare and commercial payers,” says NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Its widespread adoption could have a profound impact on health care costs because it assesses how well providers engage in prevention and goal-setting for their high-risk patients. We believe it could become the new gold standard of quality measurement, replacing some traditional measures that have been the cornerstone of quality improvement for years.”

The traditional approach to quality measurement focuses on processes of care, and reaching clinically artificial treatment goals for biomarkers, rather than the actual disease outcomes. Traditional approaches provide little quantitative information about the outcomes that actually occur based on the care patients receive. In contrast, the GCVR measures how much patients’ risk of future adverse health outcomes have been reduced. Unlike current measures, which focus on a particular process or biomarker, the GCVR measure is a single metric that captures what every provider can do to prevent adverse outcomes, all integrated in a medically and clinically realistic way.

Under the project, NCQA will:

  • Evaluate the feasibility of collecting data from EHRs to calculate a measurable result for different providers and provider organizations; and
  • Evaluate provider views on how useful and meaningful the GCVR score is for predicting risk.

“The GCVR program will change how providers, patients, and payers think about the measurement of quality and will provide much more accurate and effective incentives for preventing adverse outcomes than has been possible in the past,” says David Eddy, MD, PhD, founder of Archimedes Inc., a San Francisco-based healthcare modeling company. “Preventing bad outcomes is the ultimate purpose of the health care system, and this measure will directly address that goal,” he says. “And because bad outcomes cause expensive admissions, tests, and procedures, this new measure will be more effective in controlling costs, at the same time that it helps improve patients’ lives.”

“The GCVR is a game-changer for measuring quality, promoting prevention, and assessing the impact of health care decisions on patient outcomes,” says RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD. “Measuring quality in this way could have major implications for improving patient care and lowering costs because this is focused on preventing adverse health outcomes, not just on care processes or goals, which has been the standard until now.”

Over the next 18 months, NCQA will evaluate the feasibility of extracting the electronic health data it needs to calculate the measure from a number of health systems and health plans that use EHRs from around the country. It is now in the process of recruiting organizations to participate. The data collection and analysis will occur over the summer and fall of 2013, and NCQA expects to report findings by summer 2014.

Watch the video A Pioneering Way to Measure Health Care Quality in which Helen Darling of The National Business Group on Health discusses how the GCVR will benefit employers.

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Exhaled Breath Carries a ‘Breathprint’ Unique to Each Individual

Stable, specific ‘breathprints’ unique to an individual exist and may have applications as diagnostic tools in personalized medicine, according to research published April 3 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Renato Zenobi and colleagues from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and the University Hospital Zürich, Switzerland.

The researchers studied the chemicals present in exhaled breath from eleven participants, collected at different times of the day over an 11-day period. They found significant differences in the chemicals present in each person’s samples, and discovered differences between samples taken at different times of day from the same person. Despite these variations, their results identified a core ‘breathprint’ unique to each individual that was highly specific and could be linked to its owner. The factors that contribute to this unique breathprint are still unknown.

The authors suggest that attributes like diet, health conditions or exposure to other chemicals may contribute to these individual signatures of breath. According to the study, these results suggest that breath analysis may eventually become a valuable source of clinical information, similar to the analysis of other fluids such as plasma or urine.

Study: Human Breath Analysis May Support the Existence of Individual Metabolic Phenotypes

Source: EurekAlert!

Rosetta Genomics Reports Study Comparing microRNA Profiles of Cancer of Unknown Primary and Metastases of Known Primary Tumors Published in Clinical Experimental Metastasis

Rosetta Genomics Ltd. (NASDAQ: ROSG), a leading developer and provider of microRNA-based molecular diagnostics, announced last week that data from a study assessing the differences between cancer of unknown primary (CUP) and metastatic solid tumors of known primary metastases (KPM) by profiling microRNA expression were recently published in Clinical Experimental Metastasis, in an article entitled “Global microRNA profiling in favorable prognosis subgroups of cancer of unknown primary (CUP) demonstrates no significant expression differences with metastases of matched known primary tumors.”

EXINI and Active Biotech Initiate Collaboration, Aiming to Clinically Evaluate the Future of Cancer Treatment

EXINI Diagnostics AB (NASDAQ OMX First North: EXINI) and Active Biotech AB (NASDAQ OMX NORDIC: ACTI) start collaboration within clinical trials. The aim is to use the opportunity offered by EXINI Bone™ to monitor disease progression in advanced prostate cancer, using the BSI (Bone Scan Index) value, a new imaging biomarker. BSI is thought to be useful in studying the effect of tasquinimod in the treatment of patients with castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).