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Personalized Medicine Roadmap: Definiens Releases Five Steps to Utilize Data Mining with Image Analysis

Definiens, a healthcare company that advances personalized medicine through image analysis and digital pathology solutions, recently released tips for integrating data mining with image analysis. As pathologists, researchers and clinicians seek to advance personalized medicine through the development and prescription of targeted therapies, data generated through image analysis of digitized tissue sections is becoming essential to stratifying patients and providing personalized care.

Utility Of Rubicon Genomics’ ThruPLEX-FD Kit Validated In Study Showing “Liquid Biopsy” Can Track Genomic Evolution Of Cancer In Response To Therapy

Rubicon Genomics, Inc., a leader in the development and commercialization of innovative sample-specific nucleic acid library preparation products used in research and clinical testing, recently reported that its ThruPLEXTM-FD Prep Kits contributed to the success of a breakthrough study recently published in Nature1 that showed that genomic data extracted from the plasma of cancer patients can be used to track drug resistance and potentially guide treatment.

Quintiles Asks, ‘Why Not Test for Many Biomarkers at Once?’ When Evaluating Therapies for Cancer Patients

Calling the concept “pre-profiling,” Quintiles (Research Triangle Park, NC) is collaborating with US Oncology Research (the research arm of McKesson Specialty Health) to test the value of running multiple biomarker tests at once for cancer patients—in this case those with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Either for initial therapy, or as a step to selecting candidates for clinical trials, the current practice is to look for genomic data that is relevant to one type of therapy; if the suitable genomic variant is found, the clinician then knows that the patient is a good trial candidate, or that the patient could benefit from a specific therapy. Quintiles is suggesting to look at many variants or makers initially and then make treatment or trial recruitment decisions.

In practice, says Dr. Jeffrey Spaeder, CMO at Quintiles, a biopsy would be retrieved from the patient, DNA and other genomic information sequenced, abnormalities identified, and bioinformatics analysis conducted, then returning the results back to the clinician. “All these steps sound intuitively straightforward, but they involve complex handoffs of information and clinical decisions,” he says. Understanding what the clinician can do with the data needs to be determined; what choices the patient might have for one therapy or another; and in the final analysis, whether better outcomes could be achieved remain to be evaluated. Eventually, the multiple-biomarker process could become a step in the clinical pathways that various organizations have developed for treatment of cancers. “Early indications from this study suggest that we can provide physicians and patients with early visibility on potentially clinically actionable biomarkers within a rapid two-week timeframe. This level and speed of analysis has promise to save valuable time in administering potentially life-saving therapies to patients, and reduce the development times of precision medicines.”

The biomarker field, while demonstrating exciting new potential and spurring the evolution of personalized (or “precision”) medicine, is fraught with operational difficulties. Insurers are selective about what biomarker tests they are willing to pay for; practitioners have varying enthusiasm for the tests, and the clarity around which tests lead to beneficial outcomes are not clear. Even so, this study could be one of a series of medical innovations to make biomarkers a standard element of cancer therapy.

Source: Pharmaceutical Commerce

Data Sharing Pivotal to Personalized Medicine

Challenges associated with sharing and synthesizing massive amounts healthcare data to improve patient outcomes emerged as a key theme in a   discussion last week on the future of personalized medicine.

The event at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. urged doctors, policy experts and healthcare-technology leaders to explore ways to advance the field —informing those in attendance and online, as well as shaping a policy brief the center will issue this fall. Notable sound bites and other insights were shared in real-time on Twitter using #personalizedmedicine through a Dell initiative to expand the reach of the discussion to a worldwide virtual audience.

Better, cheaper healthcare

Significant advancements in personalized medicine, which includes genomics, is making it easier for practitioners to tailor medical treatments and preventive strategies to the characteristics of each patient — advancements that supporters say will improve care and reduce costs. Yet progress is being slowed by a number of factors, including the limited sharing of patient information.

Greater sharing would allow medical institutions that are creating patient databases — some with genomic information — to expand the size of the patient pool, thus making it more likely to identify and treat rare conditions, panelists said. It would also allow patients to personally store and share their data with different practitioners, increasing portability. The day that everyone will have every detail about their personal health on their smartphones didn’t sound that far off.

Mollie H. Ullman-Cullere, who structures genomic data in IT systems according to emerging standards, said the federal government is taking steps toward sharing more information with patients, but more effort is needed. She cited a rule change that will allow patients to obtain test results directly from labs.

“How government is addressing healthcare reform is through patient engagement and informing them as active consumers of healthcare,” she said. “Genetics has to be included in that.”

Big data for doctors

The other component of the data-accessibility issue is how medical researchers should go about building massive databases of patient records. The ultimate application is a big-data program that could analyze a patient’s data against similar patients and generate a course of action for the physician.

But with greater access comes privacy concerns, and a need to persuade policymakers and the public at large that the medical community can be trusted with storing and using patient data for the greater good, some panelists said. Data can help practitioners diagnose patients more accurately and quickly, and identify risk factors much earlier. Both capabilities would lower healthcare costs.

Edward Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, said he’s noticed a vexing dichotomy that policymakers will need to address in order to boost the amount of information that patients share with medical databases.

“The tricky part is that the public wants control over information, but as patients they may think differently,” he said.

Source: Tech Page One

Genome Institute of Singapore and Sengenics Enter Into Partnership for Early Detection of Cancer Cells

The Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and Sengenics recently announced a partnership for cancer biomarker discovery with the aim to identify and validate auto-antibodies that can be used to detect early-stage cancers.

The partnership leverages on Sengenics’ strategic partner, Oxford Gene Technology’s (OGT) proprietary proteomics microarray platform− considered to be a world-first, as all the proteins on the microarray are full-length, correctly folded and hence functional. The unique components of the technology will enable researchers to identify auto-antibody interactions in the blood before the cancer reaches an advanced stage.

The initial GIS-Sengenics collaboration will focus on two key cancers this year that are highly prevalent in the region− gastric and breast cancers.

“Given the performance and track record of the OGT protein array technology, we are excited at the potential of discovering both novel and existing biomarkers for these two important cancers,” said Dr Arif Anwar, Executive Director at Sengenics.

Johan Poole-Johnson, Sengenics Commercial Director added, “Our end-goal is to transfer the biomarker signatures identified specific to Singaporean genetic profiles onto a low-cost prognostic test. We envisage to complete the first phase of the project within 12 months.”

GIS Executive Director Prof Ng Huck Hui said, “By combining and cross-correlating the new biomarkers identified with our existing proprietary genomic data, we can potentially develop a new range of powerful oncology prognostic tests specific to the Singaporean population. Early and timely detection of cancers is a key strategy that we are pursuing for our Stratified Oncology programme. We are very pleased to work closely with Sengenics in this partnership.”

As part of the collaboration initiative, Sengenics will establish its research biomarker discovery facility at GIS in 2013.

Source: Sengenics