Your quarterly update from the MCGI team
October — December 2020
On December 2, JAX announced that the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative (MCGI) will participate in the American Society of Clinical Oncology's novel clinical trial, the Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR™) Study and will serve as a coordinating center for the precision medicine clinical trial at sites located in Maine and New Hampshire. MCGI's role as a coordinating center for the TAPUR™ Study will increase access to for patients in these two rural Northeastern states to promising treatments for specific mutations identified in their tumors.
The national TAPUR™ Study provides patients who have exhausted standard treatment options with access to targeted study drugs matched to the genomic profiles of their cancers. The study now has enrolled more than 2,000 participants and includes patients with advanced solid tumors that are no longer responding to standard anti-cancer treatment or for whom no acceptable standard treatment is available. In addition, each participant’s cancer must also have at least one genomic alteration that can be targeted with a TAPUR™ Study drug. To determine this, a special laboratory test — called a genomic or molecular profiling test —must be performed on a sample of the tumor.
MCGI was established in 2016 in order to bring advanced testing and treatment to the state’s cancer patients. To date, MCGI has enabled genomic cancer testing for over 1,600 Maine's cancer patients and assembled an oncology alliance of practices from every major healthcare system and private practice in the state. Driven by the need for greater access to cancer genomic testing in Maine, MCGI has become a national model for community precision oncology (also known as personalized cancer care) in a rural setting. As MCGI moves into its next phase, its goal is to enroll an additional 3,200 cancer patients for genomic testing, potentially revealing information about their tumors that might make participation in the TAPUR Study a possible option for them.
By serving as a coordinating center, JAX's MCGI will make it possible for patients in northern New England with advanced cancer to access medications that may effectively target the genomic alterations in their cancer. Jens Rueter, M.D., medical director of The Jackson Laboratory said, "We expect that this will form the basis for successfully attracting additional clinical trials to the Northeast and other rural areas where this level of innovative medicine is truly needed."
MCGI works directly with Colby College and the Daniel Hanley Center for Healthcare Leadership to offer undergraduate students first-hand opportunities to help advance genomic medicine through participation in projects that can transform health-related decisions. Knowledge acquired during the internships ultimately contribute to direct experience for the next generation of healthcare practitioners and better outcomes for the patients they will serve.
Our team is pleased to share the achievements of our 2020 interns and highlight how they’ve participated in the implementation, management, and advancement of various aspects of the MCGI Study.
Ben Capodanno — Winter 2020
Double Major: Computational Biology; Mathematics/Statistics
Sam Donahue — Winter 2020
Major: Computational Biology
Annie Schulman — Winter 2020
Major: Biology with Concentration in Neuroscience
Michelle Cao — Summer 2020
Double Major: Chemistry/Biochemistry, East Asian Studies
Zhaoyue 'Charis' Li — Summer 2020
Double Major: Computational Biology/Science, Technology, and Society (STS); Minor: Philosophy
Oliver Steeves — Summer 2020
Major: Economics; Minor: Mathematics
Mei Tian — Summer 2020
Major: Computer Science
Each year MaineGeneral Health celebrates a Day of Hope which unifies two of their signature events – Cancer Survivors Day and Walk for Hope. This year, the community came together to create a virtual celebration to promote hope and community while maintaining efforts to remain socially distant.
In addition to supporters who walked throughout the greater MaineGeneral Health community, providers and staff members at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care (HACCC) spent 40 hours walking the HACCC Healing Gardens in support of their patients. In tribute, a baton filled with the first names of each person cared for since the HACCC opened its doors in 2007 was continuously carried by the staff during all the hours walked.
Members of the MCGI team participated in this event during the week and had the honor of passing the baton over to the HACCC providers as they walked the final round in completion of this year's Day of Hope.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, nothing could stop the community from a celebration honoring and supporting our cancer survivors and fighters.
PARP Inhibitors: Overview & Indications
For which patients are PARP inhibitors (PARPi) approved? What type of testing is required to determine if a patient meets criteria? This new web resources summarizes FDA-approved indications for PARPi for treatment and maintenance therapy and discusses emerging indications for use.
Want a more general overview of PARPi? See the resource FAQ: PARP Inhibition Therapy.
PD-L1 Testing: Ordering & Interpreting
Which patients should have PD-L1 testing? When is a positive PD-L1 result required to prescribe immunotherapy? This new web resource summarizes current guidelines for use and interpretation of PD-L1 testing.
Want to understand how PD-L1 testing fits in with other immunotherapy biomarkers to inform treatment? See the overview Evaluating Immune Checkpoint Inhibition Biomarkers.
Blog: Financial Considerations of Genomic Tumor Testing
There are many reasons why the discussion of costs related to genomic tumor testing can be difficult. Tests vary in scope and cost, and prices are often not transparent. Multiple stakeholders, including insurance companies, utilization management services, and providers themselves, are involved in obtaining insurance coverage for a patient. In September, JAX wrote a blog about these issues to help demystify the process and discuss resources available for oncology providers and patients.
MCGI was featured in the following stories throughout the quarter:
The Harold Alfond™ Foundation pledged $500 million to boost Maine's economy through science and technology education to eight institutions, including JAX's MCGI. This news was shared by Precision Oncology News, WAGM-TV, WABI-5, Mainebiz, Mount Desert Islander, Portland Press Herald and others.
JAX medical director, Jens Rueter, M.D., was featured on Maine Public's call-in radio show, Maine Calling, as one of seven institutions represented. The guests represented higher education and research institutions in Maine which received grants awarded from The Harold Alfond™ Foundation.
Precision Oncology News wrote about the announcement that JAX's MCGI will be bringing the ASCO TAPUR Study to Maine and New Hampshire.