GREENE COUNTY — Kettering Health Network (KHN) recently joined the Strata Precision Oncology Network to offer no-cost tumor profiling to patients with advanced cancer.
The partnership allows advanced cancer patients at KHN to receive genetic information that their physicians can use to impact their treatment plans.
“We find out it’s (cancer) not as simple as they originally thought,” Mary S. Connolly, Director of Innovation, Research & Grants for KHN, said, referring to the first war on cancer in the 1960s.
“As they learn more and more about cancer, they realize no two cancers are alike … they’re realizing that they’re different at the genetic level — in a person’s DNA,” she continued. “So to be able to treat these people appropriately, we need that genetic information.”
Strata is enabling KHN physicians to order this tumor profiling for their patients, according to Dan Rhodes, CEO of Strata Oncology. The tests are rarely covered by insurance, he said, costing from $2,500 to $4,000 per patient. But in the new partnership, patients don’t have to pay anything.
According to a press release, members of Strata Precision Oncology Network leverage the StrataNGSTM test, an 87-gene assay that sequences both DNA and RNA, to identify trial candidates for targeted therapies. StrataNGS is available to all advanced solid tumor and lymphoma patients through the Strata Trial, a nationwide observational study providing tumor sequencing for 100,000 patients with advanced cancer.
“Access to tumor sequencing and clinical trials are two key barriers to broadening patient access to precision oncology,” Rhodes said.
In less than two weeks after the test, doctors receive a lengthy report from Strata’s lab in Ann Arbor, Mich., which details the mutations present in tumor tissue.
“It doesn’t really make any sense to know that a person has mutation A-B-C unless you can do something about it,” Connolly said.
After studying the report, physicians can alter patients’ therapy to make it more effective in treating their cancer.
For example, Connolly said, a physician might see that a certain mutation one patient has may be resistant to the chemotherapy they’re using.
The second thing a mutation profile can do is allow physicians to match patients to “precision medicine” clinical trials.
“With incurable cancers … their treatment options are limited or nonexistent. Sometimes their only option is to enter a clinical trial,” Connolly said.
Patients can only enter this type of experimental treatment if they have a specific mutation. Without mutation knowledge, patients have no access to clinical trials.
The partnership between KHN and Strata began in September, and so far 120 patients have benefited from receiving new genetic information. Matching with a clinical trial is rarer, Connolly said, with KHN only having one patient match so far.
“As time goes on, with more and more experimental drugs and clinical trials … I anticipate we’ll have many more matched by next year,” Connolly said.
According to Rhodes, clinical trials of new cancer therapies are available only at select institutions nationwide, meaning patients often must travel to receive treatment.
Patients in Greene County now have access to advanced tumor sequencing and cutting-edge clinical trials at KHN.
“We do have the latest technology and treatment options for patients,” Connolly said. “It’s so important for patients to have the option to stay close to home during cancer treatment. It means so much to them to get to stay home with their families.”