- Posted Thursday June 11, 2020
Using GEM ExTra test, Ashion examines all possible cancer mutations in DNA and RNA
PHOENIX, Ariz. — June 11, 2020 — Ashion Analytics, a clinical laboratory of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope, is now part of the National Cancer Institute’s MATCH program, which provides patients who have rare or difficult-to-treat cancers with access to unique clinical trials nationwide that might give them the best therapeutic treatments and outcomes.
Ashion is one of the nation’s few dozen institutes participating in MATCH, which stands for Molecular Analysis for Therapy CHoice.
Unlike other MATCH participants, which screen patients with panels consisting of a few hundred known gene variants associated with various cancers, Ashion screens cancer patients for all of the nearly 3 billion nucleotides, or letters, in human DNA, which includes more than 19,000 genes. Ashion accomplishes this by performing genomic sequencing — a molecular-level analysis of each patient’s entire genome. Ashion scientists then match each patient’s unique cancer to the best available cancer treatments.
“Our genomic cancer analysis is one of the nation’s most comprehensive tests, not only for the MATCH program, but for any cancer patient whose treating physician, or medical team, requires our precision-medicine guidance,” said Dr. Janine LoBello, Ashion’s Medical Director.
One of the biggest perks for patients who become eligible to enroll in MATCH clinical trials is that the federal government covers the cost of their drugs, which can be substantial, often reaching six figures. MATCH patients, or their medical insurance providers, usually pick up other clinical costs.
GEM ExTra analyzes complete patient genome
To achieve this complete analytic coverage of the human genome, Ashion uses a proprietary test called GEM ExTra, which covers all protein coding regions of DNA (known as the Exome), and an analysis of all RNA, the messengers of DNA (known as the Transcriptome). GEM stands for Genomic Enabled Medicine, and ExTra stands for Exome and Transcriptome.
Using GEM ExTra, Ashion sequences both the individual patient’s normal genome and the patient’s cancer genome. Then the two sets of genomic data are compared to find the gene changes, known as mutations, that are specific to the tumor and may be potentially driving that patient’s cancer.
Study highlighting RNA role presented at recent ASCO meeting
An Ashion study poster presented May 29-31 at the 2020 annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) details the importance of using RNA as part of the analysis to give cancer physicians the best possible options for treating their patients: Employing RNA Sequencing to Enhance Treatment Options for Cancer Patients.
“As you can imagine, this requires billions of precise data points to understand each patient’s molecular makeup; to understand which genes are the likely culprits involved in the patient’s cancer, and what therapeutic drug, or drugs, may be best to counter the patient’s disease,” Dr. LoBello explained.
This could include new therapeutics, as well as existing drugs already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a particular cancer. These FDA-approved drugs could be repurposed to fight a different cancer through any of the more than 1,100 sites nationwide that are conducting NCI-MATCH clinical trials. Clinical trials are most often the first tests of drugs in human patients, after the drugs have undergone substantial computer and laboratory testing to ensure they are safe and effective.
“We are excited to be selected by the National Cancer Institute to participate in the NCI’s MATCH program, and we hope that more patients will benefit from this program as a result of our GEM ExTra testing,” said Thomas Royce, Executive Director of Ashion.
For more information, please visit ashion.com or call 844-539-3309.
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About Ashion Analytics
At Ashion, our goal is to accelerate the adoption of genomic analysis for clinical decision support to improve the treatment of patients with refractory, rare or aggressive disease. We are experts at Next-Generation Sequencing-based clinical laboratory services, deriving our pedigree from the pioneering precision medicine work at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix. Ashion Analytics’ mission is to develop and deliver the premier personalized medicine diagnostic, data analytic, and clinical coordination services, which assist healthcare providers in offering their patients individualized treatment options, and which improve outcomes.
About TGen, an affiliate of City of Hope
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life-changing results. TGen is affiliated with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases: www.cityofhope.org. This precision medicine affiliation enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases through cutting-edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research toward patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and complex rare diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.
TGen Senior Science Writer