Hackensack Meridian Health Launches Anthology Diagnostics Laboratories for State-of-the-Art Lab Genomic Profiling of Cancers   

Hackensack Meridian Health Launches Anthology Diagnostics Laboratories for State-of-the-Art Lab Genomic Profiling of Cancers

Hackensack Meridian Health and Genomic Testing Cooperative (GTC) in Irvine, California, have teamed up to establish the first-of-its-kind genomic profiling laboratory called Anthology Diagnostics, to generate more personalized, precise, and real-time insights for cancer patients, oncologists and hospitals. The reference laboratory located at Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey will offer next generation sequencing data of DNA and RNA that is useful to clinicians in treatment decision-making for their patients as well as to researchers seeking to identify innovative biomarkers that can further improve the understanding and management of blood cancers and solid tumors.

GTC has developed highly validated tests for DNA as well as RNA profiling. DNA is the blueprint for all genetic information in the body; RNA converts genetic information from DNA to build proteins. 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.

"We are thrilled with the launch of Anthology Diagnostics Laboratory as it demonstrates the commitment of Hackensack Meridian Health to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, which is one of the country's most common illnesses and a leading cause of death in the United States," noted Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer, Hackensack Meridian Health. "The technologies we are spearheading with the laboratory puts us on the forefront of cancer care and research."

"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., 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."

The results of next-generation genetic sequencing of DNA and RNA have enormous value for:

Confirming a diagnosis and understanding the molecular subtype of a cancer — not just what it looks like under a microscope

Identifying drivers of cancer growth, including genetic mutations such as chromosomal translocations or fusions, that may guide the choice of targeted cancer therapies — an approach called "precision medicine" that may not only help in the selection of the most effective therapies, but 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

Understanding 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)

Predicting a patient's prognosis and generating volumes of data on patient outcomes

Monitoring response to therapy, allowing physicians to change to a different treatment if genomic testing shows another approach is not working

Detecting signs of relapse earlier, before it can be seen on an imaging exam or causes symptoms

Refining 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.

"We look forward to collaborating with Hackensack Meridian Health through this reference laboratory, which offers sophisticated high-quality molecular testing to strengthen the practice of precision medicine and drive innovation through research and development," explained Maher Albitar, M.D., chief executive officer and chief medical officer at GTC. "This collaboration will allow GTC to co-develop new tests with Hackensack Meridian Health utilizing real world clinical and outcomes data."

The Anthology Diagnostics Laboratories at JFK University Medical Center complements the previously announced next-generation sequencing laboratory operated by Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) in their practice at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, which provides services for RCCA physicians.

Physicians and hospitals interested in utilizing the services of the reference laboratory at Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center may contact 732-321-7240.

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