Foundation Medicine to Support Cancer Moonshot With Genomic Oncology Profiles

Foundation Medicine plans to release approximately 18,000 genomic profiles of adult cancers from its FoundationCore knowledge base to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Genomic Data Commons portal (GDC). The GDC is a new unified data system designed for exchanging genomic and clinical data among researchers and was launched in June as a core component of the National Cancer Moonshot and the Precision Medicine Initiative. Foundation Medicine’s contribution of de-identified and HIPAA-compliant genomics information represents the largest public data release of its kind to the NCI, more than doubling the size of the GDC.

FoundationCore contains comprehensive genomic information and insights from more than 80,000 clinical cases. The knowledge base evolves over time, informed by every new tumor profiled with the company’s clinical assays, FoundationOne, FoundationOne Heme, and FoundationAct.

“This major infusion of data in the GDC will greatly enhance our ability to use this tool to explore genetic abnormalities in cancer,” said Douglas Lowy, MD, NCI acting director. “We had already established a strong cancer genomic foundation for the GDC at its launch, but with the addition of the genomic data from Foundation Medicine, we believe that the GDC will be an even more useful resource for researchers worldwide to help us unravel the complexities of many forms of cancer.” 

Metabolon, Muses Labs to Combine Forces on Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative

Muses Labs and Metabolon have entered a partnership to use metabolomics to study individuals with cognitive decline and early Alzheimer’s disease with the ultimate goal of creating personalized treatment plans. Muses Labs has a team dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease that developed the metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND) protocol for pre-symptomatic individuals or those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. This system collects patient data, identifies causes of cognitive decline, and generates a specific treatment plan using patient genomes, blood tests, medical history, and lifestyle. Under the terms of the collaboration, the two companies will leverage this protocol as well as Metabolon’s research on metabolomics, informatics, and biomarker tests.

“While research into metabolomics and Alzheimer’s disease is in its early stages, we believe that by using this technology, the connections between metabolism and the underlying pathologies of Alzheimer’s disease will become better understood,” said Marwan Sabbagh, MD, the chief medical-scientific advisor of Muses Labs. “Metabolomics can guide the clinical care of Alzheimer’s disease today while laying the foundation for new interventions and protocols.”

AHA, Amazon Web Services Working on Personalized Cardiovascular Medicine

The American Heart Association (AHA) has entered a collaboration with Amazon Web Services to further the mission of AHA’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine. The institute aims to improve cardiovascular health by taking into account the systems biology arising from a person’s genes, environment, and lifestyle. Under the terms of the partnership, AHA will use Amazon’s extensive cloud computing services, computation storage, and analysis resources to advance the institute’s projects, which include data mining, validating existing computational methods, and developing new tools and protocols for analyzing data. “The promise of precision cardiovascular medicine and care can be realized when research and technology come together to deliver new insights,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown.

AHA has allocated $300 million over the next 5 years to launch the Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine, and will award 14 grants over a 12-month period to foster research in computational biology and computer science. Amazon will also provide credits that grant recipients can use for free access to its services, such as computational storage and analysis. 

Paris Public Hospital System, IntegraGen Partner on Sequencing Platform

The Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) and the molecular genomics company IntegraGen are collaborating to develop a high-throughput platform for exome and whole genome sequencing for use in research projects and clinical research initiatives. This agreement is a first step in developing a formalized, national personalized medicine initiative under the French Plan for Genomic Medicine 2025. The agreement allows researchers, clinicians, and biologists for the AP-HP—one of the biggest patient referral centers in Europe—to exploit IntegraGen’s experience in large-scale, industrial high-throughput sequencing projects. The collaboration aims to develop a sequencing platform that can be used for research in the fields of cancer, rare disease, microbiology, and potentially psychiatry. The two organizations envision that this integrated solution will encompass all stages of genomic analysis, from collecting biological samples to delivering sequencing results. 

Singlera, Fudan University to Develop Early Cancer Tests

Singlera Genomics has joined forces with the Taizhou Institute of Health Sciences of Fudan University in Taizhou, China, to analyze the samples from a 200,000-person cohort in order to identify biomarkers for early cancer detection. This group of study participants represents the largest regional cohort of initially healthy individuals in China. Starting in 2007, the Taizhou Institute began collecting phenotypic information, health records, and more than 1.2 million biospecimens from these 200,000 individuals over a 9-year period, during which residents experienced rapid economic growth and associated lifestyle changes. Now, the joint research team plans to use Singlera’s proprietary technology to analyze biofluids collected from this cohort prior to disease onset in order to pinpoint specific biomarkers associated with the earliest stages of cancer, specifically esophageal, gastric, colorectal, lung, and breast cancers. 

Exosome Diagnostics, Takeda Collaborate on RNA Sequencing Platform

Exosome Diagnostics, the provider of an exosome liquid biopsy platform, has teamed with Takeda Pharmaceuticals to develop an exosomal RNA sequencing platform for biomarkers. As part of the agreement, Exosome Diagnostics will establish a gene expression pipeline with Takeda that will use its exosomal RNA isolation technology, RNA-Seq biomarker discovery platform, proprietary algorithms, signal enhancement technology, and other tools for analysis of exosomal RNA. The goal of the pipeline is to develop a platform for serial analysis of gene expression in patients with cancer, as well as other disease states beyond oncology. “Analysis of RNAs in exosomes may provide an innovative biomarker tool for longitudinal patient characterization to select patients, monitor disease, and track drug response over time of therapy without the need for multiple tissue biopsies,” said Andy Dorner, vice president of translational and biomarker research for Takeda.