State-of-the-Art Genomic Profiling Lab Advances Blood Cancer and Solid Tumor Care

Genomic testing helps oncologists precisely diagnose cancer and develop treatment plans

Hackensack Meridian Health and Genomic Testing Cooperative (GTC) of Irvine, California, have teamed up to establish the first-of-its-kind genomic profiling laboratory called Anthology Diagnostics.

The genomic testing lab will offer next-generation sequencing data of DNA and RNA, and will generate personalized, precise, and real-time insights to improve the clinical decision-making, understanding and management of blood cancers and solid tumors.

The reference laboratory is located at Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey.

The next-generation sequencing data will also be useful to researchers seeking to identify innovative biomarkers that can advance the field of blood cancer and solid tumor treatment.

DNA and RNA Profiling the New Standard in Precision Medicine

GTC has developed highly validated tests for DNA as well as RNA profiling. Often in cancer, mutations in genes lead to defective proteins that can trigger cancer development, cause cancers to become resistant to treatment, or make them spread.

Profiling both DNA and RNA in a patient with cancer can provide more information than DNA testing alone regarding the cancer origin, biology, and clinical behavior as well as the response of the immune system of the patient to the cancer.

Paired DNA and RNA profiling is increasingly recognized as the new standard in precision medicine, and GTC is leading the way in the development of clinical applications for this approach. Although we are currently using genomic information for diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making, we have only touched the surface in terms of how this technology can be applied, said Andre Goy, M.D., M.S., physician-in-chief for Oncology at Hackensack Meridian Health. “The collaboration between Hackensack Meridian Health and GTC will facilitate the translation of this technology to everyday patient care more quickly — not only at our institution, but along the entire East Coast.”

Benefits of Genetic Sequencing

The results of next-generation genetic sequencing of DNA and RNA are used to:

  • Confirm a diagnosis and understand the molecular subtype of a cancer — not just what it looks like under a microscope.
  • Identify drivers of cancer growth, including genetic mutations such as chromosomal translocations or fusions, that may guide the choice of targeted cancer therapies — a precision medicine approach that may not only help in the selection of the most effective therapies, but also avoid the use of less effective treatments. RNA profiling also yields more information than DNA sequencing if multiple molecular pathways are driving a cancer's growth, enabling clinicians to take aim at the cancer from a variety of angles by using a combination of targeted therapies.
  • Understand the aggressiveness of a patient’s cancer so doctors know how intensively they need to treat it, or if it needs to be treated at all (some can just be monitored).
  • Predict a patient’s prognosis and generate volumes of data on patient outcomes.
  • Monitor response to therapy, allowing physicians to change to a different treatment if genomic testing shows another approach is not working.
  • Detect signs of relapse earlier, before it can be seen on an imaging exam or causes symptoms.
  • Refine the selection of patients for clinical trials which require participants to have certain molecular features in their cancers.

The lab will also be able to perform “liquid biopsies,” the analysis of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) released by cancer cells in the bloodstream. Doctors can look for very early evidence of cancer just by taking a blood sample from a patient, avoiding the need for repeat invasive tissue biopsies in patients with solid tumors and bone marrow biopsies in those with hematologic (blood) cancers, such as leukemia.

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