Google, Oracle and others make precision medicine moves at HIMSS18

GenomeWeb and Oracle Health Sciences reveal key survey results; WuXi NextCODE and Google Cloud partner; and 2bPrecise and The Innovation Institute collaborate on pharmacogenomics.
By Bill Siwicki
06:29 AM
Google Oracle precision medicine

Precision medicine is a hot topic at HIMSS18, and late in the week, multiple companies were making news in this field that many experts say is key to advancing the future of healthcare.

The majority of healthcare and life sciences organizations are active with precision medicine initiatives – 62 percent participate in research activities to drive biomarker discovery or translational research while another 12 percent would like to participate or are planning to do so in the next 12-24 months. That’s according to a new study of 316 scientists, researchers and other members of the life sciences and healthcare industries conducted by GenomeWeb and sponsored by Oracle Health Sciences.

Not surprisingly, oncology is still considered the disease area where precision medicine will have the greatest impact. Research respondents, however, also believe precision medicine will benefit several other disease areas, including cardiovascular disease, neurology and pediatrics, which already are included in some organizations’ current precision medicine initiatives.

Early initiatives in precision medicine leveraged commercial partners to generate testing and results, but the new research highlights a shift of bringing more functionality in-house, with more than 50 percent of respondents claiming to use either a hybrid or in-house approach.

More than 72 percent of respondents from organizations with ongoing precision medicine initiatives said they are using next-generation sequencing variant panels. There is a growing interest in additional data types, including more complex next-generation sequencing, whole genome sequencing, and other omics data types. The study also found that nearly 80 percent hope they will be able to fully leverage large, more complex datasets to identify new insights and improve treatment recommendations by implementing these technologies in the future.

The survey also found that the vast majority of respondents who are not currently planning such an effort indicated that they would see a benefit in pursuing one, and only 18 percent of the respondents indicated an insufficient benefit to their business. However, there are still a variety of challenges in developing a precision medicine initiative, with insufficient technical structures cited as a huge obstacle in organizations’ ability to pursue precision medicine initiatives.

On another precision medicine front at HIMSS18, WuXi NextCODE, a standardized platform for genomic data, announced a partnership with Google Cloud that aims to deliver comprehensive genomics capabilities to partners and customers worldwide.

The partnership includes hosting WuXi NextCODE’s core suite of capabilities on Google Cloud and its availability on the Google Cloud Launcher marketplace. These include GORdb, WuXi NextCODE secondary analysis, the Sequence Miner case-control research application, and the Clinical Sequence Analyzer clinical interpretation system.

At the same time, key Google genomics and research tools will be integrated and deployable in tandem with the WuXi NextCODE platform, beginning with the DeepVariant secondary analysis pipeline, alongside other open source analysis pipelines and tools available through Google Cloud Platform. The companies plan to launch the first phase of the offering in May.

Also at HIMSS18, 2bPrecise and The Innovation Institute announced that they entered into an agreement that lays the foundation for 2bPrecise to deliver a pharmacogenomics knowledge base to the point of care for The Innovation Institute’s network of member providers, as well as others beyond the network.

The Innovation Institute is comprised of six member-owner health systems, one of which, Avera Health, developed GeneFolio, a drug-drug-gene test and knowledge base that incorporates pharmacist-based expertise into every test result. The agreement with 2bPrecise, which offers a precision medicine platform, is intended to enable GeneFolio to be accessed within the provider workflow across all Innovation Institute health systems, as well as others.

While GeneFolio, which was launched within Avera in the summer of 2017, doesn’t tell providers what to prescribe, it gives them an additional tool to hone in and prescribe the most effective medications, which can mean fewer side effects, faster recovery and lower costs.

The 2bPrecise platform enables the results achieved through GeneFolio to be harmonized and delivered to clinicians in an actionable format – not only within the Avera Health system, located across a multi-state region in the Midwest, but across The Innovation Institute’s network, which includes five other prominent health systems representing 125 hospitals in 20 states, 2bPrecise explained.

“Together we can enable physicians to take these insights, and order the medications or therapies most likely to be effective with each individual patient,” said Larry Stofko, executive vice president of The Innovation Institute. “This means improved patient outcomes and a decrease in the overall cost of care.”

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