Rapid advances in combatting cancer through precision medicine, such as an array of new FDA-approved targeted therapies like pembrolizumab (the first tissue-agnostic drug), are showing tremendous promise. These advances in treating various forms of cancer, however, aren’t available to most advanced cancer patients who lack access to comprehensive tumor molecular profiling and precision medicine clinical trials. At the same time, precision therapy trial enrollment is slow and inefficient, resulting in delays bringing new medicines to market.
In February 2019, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States joined the Strata Precision Oncology Network, partnering with nearly 20 health care systems across the United States to integrate cutting-edge molecular profiling and precision therapy trials with routine care so that all advanced cancer patients have the opportunity to benefit. Members of the Network leverage Strata’s precision oncology platform to implement a comprehensive, streamlined program for routine tumor molecular profiling, efficient utilization of molecular data, and precision therapy trials.
“The patients that will benefit the most from it are advanced cancers with not many other options available,” said Leon Hwang, MD, Mid Atlantic Permanente Medical Group Chief of Oncology for the District of Columbia and Suburban Maryland. Dr. Hwang is also a principal investigator on many of the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Research Institute’s oncology clinical trials. “Ordinarily, this testing costs thousands of dollars, and is often not covered because it is not the standard of care.”
Specifically, Mid Atlantic Permanente Medical Group oncologists will be able to work through the Network using Next Generation Sequencing on archived cancer specimens for advanced cancer patients, to look for about 100 cancer targets with actionable mutations. The network acts as a type of “clearinghouse” that can either match a patient with an approved treatment for that target, or access to a trial looking at medications for that target.
“The Strata trial allows us to offer our patients more treatment options and additional access to potentially transformative precision medicine clinical trials” said Leslie Greenberg, Mid-Atlantic Permanente Research Institute’s Clinical Trials Program Manager.
By joining the Strata Precision Oncology Network, Mid Atlantic Permanente Medical Group intends to raise the standard of care for cancer patients, where molecular profiling, clinical trial participation and continuous learning to inform care and research are the norm. Using the Network will help increase recruitment of patients for clinical trials, which is a key standard in KPMAS’ certification as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program by the Commission on Cancer.
Other health systems participating in the Network include Gundersen Health, Aurora Health, Kettering Health Network, Metro Minnesota Community Oncology Research Consortium, Ochsner Health System, and several other Kaiser Permanente regions, such as Northwest, Northern California, and Colorado.