EDISON, N.J. AND IRVINE, C.A. (March 16, 2021) — Hackensack Meridian Health and Genomic Testing Cooperative (GTC) in Irvine, California, have teamed up to establish the first-of-its-kind genomic profiling laboratory called Anthology Diagnostics, to generate more personalized, precise, and real-time insights for cancer patients, oncologists and hospitals. The reference laboratory located at Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey will offer next generation sequencing data of DNA and RNA that is useful to clinicians in treatment decision-making for their patients as well as to researchers seeking to identify innovative biomarkers that can further improve the understanding and management of blood cancers and solid tumors.
GTC has developed highly validated tests for DNA as well as RNA profiling. DNA is the blueprint for all genetic information in the body; RNA converts genetic information from DNA to build proteins. Often in cancer, mutations in genes lead to defective proteins that can trigger cancer development, cause cancers to become resistant to treatment, or make them spread. Profiling both DNA and RNA in a patient with cancer can provide more information than DNA testing alone regarding the cancer origin, biology, and clinical behavior as well as the response of the immune system of the patient to the cancer.
“We are thrilled with the launch of Anthology Diagnostics Laboratory as it demonstrates the commitment of Hackensack Meridian Health to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, which is one of the country’s most common illnesses and a leading cause of death in the United States,” noted Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer, Hackensack Meridian Health. “The technologies we are spearheading with the laboratory puts us on the forefront of cancer care and research.”
“Paired DNA and RNA profiling is increasingly recognized as the new standard in precision medicine, and GTC is leading the way in the development of clinical applications for this approach. Although we are currently using genomic information for diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making, we have only touched the surface in terms of how this technology can be applied,” said Andre Goy, M.D., physician-in-chief for Oncology at Hackensack Meridian Health. “The collaboration between Hackensack Meridian Health and GTC will facilitate the translation of this technology to everyday patient care more quickly — not only at our institution, but along the entire East Coast.”
The results of next-generation genetic sequencing of DNA and RNA have enormous value for:
- Confirming a diagnosis and understanding the molecular subtype of a cancer — not just what it looks like under a microscope
- Identifying drivers of cancer growth, including genetic mutations such as chromosomal translocations or fusions, that may guide the choice of targeted cancer therapies — an approach called “precision medicine” that may not only help in the selection of the most effective therapies, but avoid the use of less effective treatments. RNA profiling also yields more information than DNA sequencing if multiple molecular pathways are driving a cancer’s growth, enabling clinicians to take aim at the cancer from a variety of angles by using a combination of targeted therapies
- Understanding the aggressiveness of a patient’s cancer so doctors know how intensively they need to treat it, or if it needs to be treated at all (some can just be monitored)
- Predicting a patient’s prognosis and generating volumes of data on patient outcomes
- Monitoring response to therapy, allowing physicians to change to a different treatment if genomic testing shows another approach is not working
- Detecting signs of relapse earlier, before it can be seen on an imaging exam or causes symptoms
- Refining the selection of patients for clinical trials which require participants to have certain molecular features in their cancers
The lab will also be able to perform “liquid biopsies,” the analysis of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) released by cancer cells in the bloodstream. Doctors can look for very early evidence of cancer just by taking a blood sample from a patient, avoiding the need for repeat invasive tissue biopsies in patients with solid tumors and bone marrow biopsies in those with hematologic (blood) cancers, such as leukemia.
“We look forward to collaborating with Hackensack Meridian Health through this reference laboratory, which offers sophisticated high-quality molecular testing to strengthen the practice of precision medicine and drive innovation through research and development,” explained Maher Albitar, M.D., chief executive officer and chief medical officer at GTC. “This collaboration will allow GTC to co-develop new tests with Hackensack Meridian Health utilizing real world clinical and outcomes data.”
The Anthology Diagnostics Laboratories at JFK University Medical Center complements the previously announced next-generation sequencing laboratory operated by Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) in their practice at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, which provides services for RCCA physicians.
Physicians and hospitals interested in utilizing the services of the reference laboratory at Hackensack Meridian JFK University Medical Center may contact 732-321-7240.
ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH
Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.
Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK University Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.
Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 34,100 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.
The network’s notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker’s Healthcare’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019” list.
The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.
Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.
For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org.
About Genomic Testing Cooperative, LCA
Genomic Testing Cooperative (GTC) is a privately-owned molecular testing company located in Irvine, CA. The company operates based on a cooperative (co-op) business model. Members of the co-op hold type A shares with voting rights. The company offers its patron members a full suite of comprehensive genomic profiling based mainly on next generation sequencing. The co-op model allows GTC to make the testing and information platform available to members at a lower cost because of a lower overhead. For more information, please visit https://genomictestingcooperative.com/.