Provider teams with genomic testing firm to launch precision med lab

With this new laboratory, the partners aim to advance genomics and precision medicine for cancer and other prevalent conditions.

Jeff Rowe | Jul 27, 2020 03:20 pm

Longtime stakeholders are saying it’s time to “refresh” the healthcare provider-vendor relationship in the name of encouraging innovations, and as if on cue Edison, NJ-based Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) and Irvine, CA-based Genomic Testing Cooperative (GTC) have announced they’re launching a next-gen sequencing reference laboratory that will tap AI to advance precision medicine.

“Investing in genomics and establishing a reference laboratory in genomics represents a new phase for Hackensack Meridian Health and demonstrates our commitment to be a leader in improving patient care,” noted Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer, Hackensack Meridian Health. “We believe that precision medicine based on genomics not only delivers better medicine but is more efficient and cost effective.”

The new laboratory will be located at JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, and will initially focus on cancer before expanding to immune diseases and various chronic conditions. The lab will bring genomics to the active screening and prevention program at HMH. Recent developments in molecular testing can provide deeper insight into tumors’ genomic signature by looking for alterations in the cancer’s DNA and RNA that drive the disease’s growth and spread. Testing could uncover one or several causes that could offer insight into how the tumor will behave, with the goal being to offer diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive information about targeted options.

“Paired DNA and RNA profiling is increasingly recognized as the new standard in precision medicine and GTC is leading in developing clinical utilizations for this approach,” said Dr. Andre Goy, physician-in-chief for Oncology at Hackensack Meridian Health and chair of John Theurer Cancer Center.

“Although we are currently using genomic information for diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making, we are only touching the surface of how this technology can be applied. The collaboration between HMH and GTC will facilitate bringing this technology faster to everyday patient care.”

GTC will develop  AI and algorithms to advance the work of the lab, which will not only serve physicians in the HMH network, but will provide outreach service to physicians and hospitals on the East Coast.

“Collaborating with HMH to open a reference laboratory on the east coast is a part of our plan in democratizing next generation sequencing and building a network of genomic laboratories that offer sophisticated high-quality molecular testing,” said Maher Albitar, MD, chief executive officer and chief medical officer at GTC.

“These laboratories will use the same algorithms and artificial intelligence approach in analyzing data with cross validation, so the data can be grouped and used for developing new applications and new indications. This collaboration will allow GTC to co-develop new tests with HMH utilizing real world clinical and outcomes data provided by HMH.”