JAX announces nationwide study to evaluate impact of genomic tumor boards on cancer care

Jens Reuter discussing oncology(l to r) Dr. Allan Espinosa of the Cary Medical Center and Jens Rueter, M.D. of the Jackson Laboratory. Photo credit: Tiffany Laufer

The Jackson Laboratory announced today that it will take its cornerstone genomic tumor board program to oncologists across the nation as part of a SWOG Cancer Research Network study, in collaboration with Columbia University.

This National Cancer Institute-supported study is enabled by the success of the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative, an alliance of Maine oncology providers led by JAX, which brings innovative cancer genomic testing, education, and drug access infrastructure to Maine, including partnerships with every oncology practice in the state. Originally developed by the need for greater availability of cancer genomic testing for Maine’s cancer patients, MCGI has become a model for community precision oncology - or personalized cancer care - in a rural setting.

Genomic tumor boards facilitate the analysis of the results of complex genomic tumor tests. These tests look for genetic changes in cancer cells, because finding certain changes can provide physicians with more information about what is causing the cancer to grow and how to treat it. To assess genomic tumor test results, physicians work through large amounts of information and the latest research to determine potential treatment options for their patients. During GTB sessions, a panel of expert external advisors, oncologists, pathologists, and clinical trial and genomics experts discuss the results of a genomic tumor test result. The goal of these sessions is to provide interpretation support for treating clinicians and engage the assembled community of oncologists in discussion of potential treatment options for the patient.

Discovering the impact of genomic tumor boards

The new SWOG study, entitled “S2108CD: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing an Educationally Enhanced Genomic Tumor Board Intervention to Usual Practice to Increase Evidence-Based Genome-Informed Therapy,” will help the team at JAX and Columbia learn if using GTBs to advise doctors on treatment options will ultimately improve the outcomes for cancer patients.

The study will take place within 18 NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) sites across the country, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico. Nine practices will review their patients’ genomic test results as they normally do, and the remaining nine practices will meet with a GTB to review test results and advise on treatment options. In addition to the structured GTB sessions, oncologists in the nine practices randomized to the intervention will have access to supporting educational resources which will be developed by JAX's Clinical Education Program. The goal of the two-year study is to enroll over 1,000 patients with a wide range of advanced or recurrent solid tumors across the two groups.

“Research on genomic tumor testing is quickly advancing and leading to new treatments,” said Jens Rueter, M.D., JAX chief medical officer and MCGI medical director, who is partnering with Meghna S. Trivedi, M.D., M.S., a medical oncologist and assistant professor at Columbia University Irving Medical Center to lead the study. “Researchers want to find the best way for doctors to use genomic tumor testing to benefit their patients, and this new study is an excellent opportunity to discover the impact that these genomic tumor boards have on patients.”

“Genomic tumor tests have become an important tool for oncologists to develop the best treatment plan for their patients, but utilizing these tests effectively and appropriately is still a significant struggle for many oncologists,” said Trivedi. “We believe that GTBs are an effective tool that will help clinicians make better treatment decisions and this study will investigate how effective they are in real world practice.”

A unique model for studying cancer care

“The educationally enhanced GTB intervention is unique in that it tests the impact of an educational intervention on patient treatment outcomes,” said Joseph Unger, Ph.D., associate professor in the Cancer Prevention Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and lead biostatistician for the study. “Applying this idea within a rigorous study framework required study design and methods that are novel to this research setting.”

JAX established MCGI in 2016 to make a direct impact on patient care by providing access to sophisticated cancer genomic technologies in the rural state of Maine. Since its establishment, MCGI has provided over 1,600 patients with genomic tumor test results, onboarded every oncology practice in Maine, brought new precision oncology clinical trials to the state and more.

“JAX has been deeply engaged in cancer research in Maine for over 90 years and since the inception of MCGI in 2016, we have made an even greater impact on cancer care by bringing a range of precision therapies to the state,” said Rueter. “This SWOG study gives us the opportunity to expand our impact and bring this important resource to oncologists across the country. We’re looking forward to the start of this pivotal study and its impact on people living with cancer.”

For more information about the study, please visit https://www.swog.org/clinical-trials/s2108cd.