Expanded in-house testing capabilities enable faster and more accurate diagnosis, prognosis and treatment planning for a wide variety of cancers.
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) recently expanded its molecular testing capabilities at its state-of-the-art Pathology Laboratory in Fort Myers and is providing patients with clinical next-generation sequencing (NGS) that are offered at FCS clinics throughout Florida. NGS testing is available for testing of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies and lymph nodes.
Through its NGS tests, FCS pathologists can detect oncogenic mutations in hundreds of different genes, tumor mutational burden and microsatellite instability simultaneously. This form of genetic testing allows clinicians to make faster diagnoses of a wide range of cancers while providing recommendations for clinical trials options and personalized therapies based on each patient’s results.
This latest innovation has been a collaboration and strategic vision of FCS executive and physician leadership along with the medical and clinical teams at the FCS Pathology Lab. Having NGS capabilities and resources housed and managed within the organization further complements FCS’ genetics counseling capabilities by enabling the development of more comprehensive risk assessments.
FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan H. Walcker said, “We see tremendous clinical and strategic value to performing this very important testing in-house. With genomic testing, we are providing our physicians with enhanced tools to optimize treatment options for our patients, including improved clinical trial matching opportunities.”
“Adding Next Generation Sequencing capabilities is very exciting and will certainly open up more clinical trial opportunities for our patients and practice,” said Manish Patel, MD, FCS Director of Drug Development. “We have many clinical trials that involve molecularly targeted therapies, and these will now be more efficiently matched to our patients’ mutational profiles.”
“This level of advanced laboratory services is rarely available from a community oncology practice,” Walcker continued. “Our continuous investments in the highest quality and most advanced technologies and the partnerships we have established with globally recognized industry leaders further enhances our ability to deliver truly personalized medicine to our patients, leading to more positive outcomes.”
According to FCS President & Managing Physician Lucio Gordan, “Centralized NGS capabilities can help drive the ultimate patient-centered goal of more personalized therapy and increased cure and response rates through faster molecular diagnosis and treatment planning. NGS testing can provide us with a clearer and more distinct understanding of each patient’s individual diagnosis,” he concludes.
FCS established critical partnerships with global technology and software leaders in NGS testing and has built the fundamental infrastructure for the success of the lab that includes a dedicated laboratory geneticist, molecular pathologist and supporting clinical experts.
Following FCS’ clinical research and development, together with its independent test validations of Illumina 500+ solid tumor panel; Invitae VariantPlex Myeloid panel and the Invitae FusionPlex PanHeme panel on the Illumina NextSeq™ 550Dx sequencing platform, FCS is now able to offer these tests to current patients.
The genetic test results are analyzed and interpreted by FCS variant scientists using the PierianDx CGW software. Powered by a comprehensive knowledgebase and secure, scalable data analysis platform, PierianDx CGW will enable FCS to perform quick and accurate classification and interpretation of the results to help identify FDA-approved therapies or match patients within the practice’s large network of participating clinical trials.
The launch of the NGS lab and testing capabilities has been positively received among physicians and clinicians throughout FCS. “Providing NGS capabilities and expertise inhouse greatly enhances access and integration of molecular testing into precision treatment planning,” said FCS Assistant Managing Physician Michael Diaz, MD.
“Having Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute as a customer represents another important step in our journey to bring genomic solutions to the fight against cancer,” said Phil Febbo, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Illumina. “By unlocking the power of the genome, we will help researchers and clinicians process, analyze and make genomic data more accessible to advance future cancer care and improve outcomes.”
“As pioneers in genetics, Invitae is focused on making genetic information available to as many people as possible who can benefit from it. We are delighted and proud to begin this strategic collaboration with FCS and applaud the practice for embracing and investing in this groundbreaking approach. It will not only expand access to genetic testing but will truly transform oncology care in the years to come,” said Robert Daber, Chief Scientific Officer, Oncology, of Invitae.
“We are thrilled to provide our best-in-class bioinformatics and knowledge platform to support personalized, community-based cancer care,” states Mark McDonough, CEO of PierianDx. “Partnering with leading-edge institutions like Florida Cancer Specialists aligns with our mission to democratize clinical genomics and to vastly advance the precision and accuracy of cancer care.”
Recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) offers patients access to more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. In the past four years, the majority of new cancer drugs approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials with Florida Cancer Specialists participation. * Trained in prestigious medical schools and research institutes, our physicians are consistently ranked nationally as Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Report.
Founded in 1984, Florida Cancer Specialists has built a national reputation for excellence that is reflected in exceptional and compassionate patient care, driven by innovative clinical research, cutting-edge technologies and advanced treatments, including targeted therapies, genomic-based treatment, and immunotherapy. Our highest values are embodied by our outstanding team of highly trained and dedicated physicians, clinicians and staff.