Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway

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Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway

The NASDAQ-registered company Illumnia is supporting a new national precision medicine study in Norway to assess the efficacy of blood-based comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) in cancer therapy selection testing. Learn more about the pioneering cancer precision medicine study in Norway.

During 2019, Oslo Cancer Cluster hosted a series of workshops with public and private shareholders in cancer. The joint goal was to accelerate the implementation of cancer precision medicine in Norway. The initial idea for IMPRESS emerged in one of these workshops, and a large national study on precision medicine against cancer started in the beginning of 2021.

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Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway
Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park

Selecting treatments that are most likely to help patients
According to the National Cancer Institute, Precision medicine is an approach to patient care that allows doctors to select treatments that are most likely to help patients based on a genetic understanding of their disease.

Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway
CGP testing can help match patients to the most appropriate clinical trials for cancer therapy selection. Photo: Illumnia

The study will also evaluate the cost-effectiveness of implementing blood-based CGP in the public healthcare system. The overarching study is called IMPRESS-Norway (Improving public cancer care by implementing precision medicine in Norway) and is designed to match already-approved cancer medicines with other tumors, depending on their molecular profile, to drive a precision medicine approach to cancer therapy selection across the country.

In the newly released Norwegian state budget, an additional NOK 30 million is allocated for personalized medicine. NOK 25 million is earmarked for the implementation of genetic precision diagnostics at Norwegian hospitals. This demonstrates a commitment from the Norwegian government to advance the implementation of precision medicine for Norwegian cancer patients.

Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway
From left: Sigbjørn Smeland, Gro Fagereng, Åslaug Helland, Kjetil Taskén and Hege Russnes (photo: Per Marius Didriksen, OUS)

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All Norwegian cancer hospitals participate
National infrastructure for precision diagnostics is needed and is currently being set up at all Norwegian cancer hospitals. Cancer patients who are eligible for clinical trials can soon be tested and selected based on their specific genetic profile.

Illumina is supporting a sub-study of 500 patients comparing solid tissue biopsies with easier-to-obtain blood samples to see if regular blood testing can provide additional information on the genetic changes within a patient’s cancer which may be relevant to the choice of treatment. If so, less invasive CGP testing of blood samples could potentially replace tissue sampling, substantially increasing the number of patients able to have their tumors profiled and be included in clinical trials for cancer therapy selection. The CGP analysis will be done using Illumina’s DRAGEN software.

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Patients can be matched to the most appropriate therapy
“Using CGP testing on a blood sample, which is less invasive and able to be performed when tissue is limited or difficult to obtain, means that a patient can be matched to the most appropriate therapy, and its impact on the tumor can be tracked at the molecular level over time,” said Phil Febbo, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Illumina. “As a result, CGP testing of a sample can assess many mutations and biomarkers simultaneously and improve outcomes.”

Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway
“The impact on the tumor can be tracked at the molecular level over time,” said Phil Febbo, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Illumina.

“Securing high-quality tissue biopsies can be both challenging and time-consuming,” said Dr Hege Russnes, Senior Consultant in Pathology, Oslo University Hospital and Head of the Infrastructure for Precision Diagnostics for cancer (InPreD). “The use of blood sample analysis could offer a powerful diagnostic tool for determining relevant biomarkers in advanced cancer patients so that we can match them effectively to clinical trials. We are grateful to Illumina’s support of this project and excited about the opportunity to investigate the match towards the CGP results from the tissue samples.”

Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway
Bjørn Klem, general manager, and Janne Nestvold, laboratory manager, are excited to continue developing Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator and its infrastructure for cell therapy research.

Learning from the Netherlands
IMPRESS-Norway is modelled on a precision medicine study called DRUP, which is currently ongoing in the Netherlands. Similar studies are being planned in several European countries and IMPRESS-Norway plans to collaborate on data sharing with the other Nordic countries. This is especially important since it’s known from experiences with the DRUP study that individual molecular profiles are so rare that it is difficult to fill the cohorts in a single country and therefore it becomes important to compile data from similar cohorts across studies.

About Illumina
Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. The company’s focus on innovation has established it as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical and applied markets. Its products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit www.illumina.com and connect Illumnia on TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube.

Pioneering Cancer Precision Medicine Study in Norway, based on press releases from IMPRESS-Norway and Illumnia.

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