Press Release December 02, 2020

JAX to expand advanced cancer clinical trial to Maine and New Hampshire

A patient meets with a doctor for JAX MCGI trials

JAX’s Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative joins nationwide TAPUR Study, providing access to targeted cancer therapies for rural population

The Jackson Laboratory’s Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative (MCGI) is participating 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. The Laboratory’s role as a coordinating center for the TAPUR Study will increase access for patients in these two rural Northeastern states to promising cancer 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.

“We are pleased to collaborate with The Jackson Laboratory’s Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative to expand ASCO’s TAPUR Study into the Northeastern United States and welcome the first practices in Maine and New Hampshire that have recently joined the TAPUR Study. By serving as a coordinating center, The Jackson Laboratory is making it possible for patients in northern New England with advanced cancer to access medications that may effectively target the genomic alterations in their cancer,” said Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO, chief medical officer and executive vice president of ASCO.

Innovative medicine for rural communities

The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), a nonprofit biomedical research institution headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine, created the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative in 2016 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 cancer patients and assembled an oncology alliance of practices from every major healthcare system and private practice in Maine. 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 bringing the TAPUR Study to Maine and New Hampshire, especially to the most rural and geographically isolated areas and those with significant aging populations who are especially vulnerable to cancer, we will enable access to the most promising treatments for specific mutations,” says Jens Rueter, medical director of The Jackson Laboratory. “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.”

“Participating in the MCGI network over the past few years has enabled community oncology practices like MaineGeneral’s Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care to offer a greater number of genomically-informed treatments to our patients. Opening the TAPUR Study further expands our ability to take action for patients and improve understanding of the practice of precision oncology. We are pleased to be able to work with ASCO and the JAX MCGI team on this important next step to bring this clinical trial option to Maine,” says Rachit Kumar, M.D.,  principal investigator at MaineGeneral’s Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care.

Increased access to clinical trial options

By making the TAPUR Study available to the broader Northern New England oncology community, JAX’s MCGI is enabling another important aspect of precision oncology: access to more clinical trial options in the Northeast. JAX aims to enroll dozens of cancer patients each year on the TAPUR Study - patients who might not otherwise have a local clinical trial option.

“Access to cancer clinical trials is challenging in rural America. Maine is no exception. I am delighted that through a collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, The Jackson Laboratory and multiple Maine cancer centers, precision cancer medicine through the TAPUR Study will soon be available to the people of Maine,” said Tracey Weisberg, M.D., physician and immediate past president at New England Cancer Specialists.

MCGI will also expand beyond the state of Maine for the first time, bringing in New Hampshire-based practices including New Hampshire Oncology-Hematology.

“The providers at New Hampshire Oncology-Hematology are thrilled to offer our patients at The Solinsky Center for Cancer Care at The Elliot in Manchester and The Payson Center in Concord the opportunity to participate in the TAPUR Study,” says Douglas Weckstein, M.D., principal investigator at New Hampshire Hematology-Oncology.

The TAPUR Study is currently enrolling patients. For additional information about the study, please visit https://www.jax.org/clinical-genomics/maine-cancer-genomics-initiative/clinicians/tapur-trial.