CMM Offers New Testing For Cancer

March 17, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Under a newly inked agreement with San Diego-based AviaraDx, the Center for Molecular Medicine has made three new tests available to area physicians that can help them better personalize treatment for their cancer patients.

CMM’s role in the partnership is to educate physicians about the utility of the new tests and promote their value. At the same time, CMM gains experience in the utility of the tests, said CMM Executive Director Daniel H. Farkas.

Farkas said physician education is a significant part of what every molecular diagnostics laboratory does. He said CMM is one of the first labs in the nation to partner with AviaraDx, adding he has already received enthusiastic response from area oncologists regarding use of the tests. 

The AviaraDx CancerTYPE ID test identifies a tumor’s organ of origin. It’s a molecular cancer classification test system based on a panel of 92 genes. According to AviaraDx, the test has shown an 87 percent success rate in classifying 39 tumor types.

Another test, H/I, stratifies estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer patients into groups with low or high risk of cancer recurrence and good or poor response to endocrine therapy. The test has been validated in multiple clinical studies involving more than 2,300 patient samples.

The third test, known as MGI, is a five-gene expression index used to stratify breast cancer patients into low or high risk of recurrence. The test has been clinically validated in collaborative studies that have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

According to AviaraDX CEO Antonius Schuh, Ph.D., the H/I and MGI tests can greatly improve a physician’s ability to select the appropriate level of treatment for each individual patient.

Farkas added, “I speak nationally and internationally, and cutting-edge tests like AviaraDx’s are always an important part of the message I tell about genomic medicine. Genomic medicine is here to stay and has the ability to dramatically affect disease management.

“Physicians realize this and are learning how to incorporate these new tests into their ‘toolboxes’ to manage their patients’ illnesses.”

Farkas said CMM is initially concentrating on spreading the word about the tests to physicians in West Michigan and their patients. But because his speaking engagement schedule takes him to so many places, it allows for a much broader dissemination of the news about the tests’ availability through CMM.  

Physicians who choose to use the test(s) must supply CMM with tumor tissue samples from their patients. CMM then prepares and ships the samples to AviaraDx. Farkas said the turnaround time on a test is two to three days. He noted that AviaraDx and CMM are working toward bringing the tests online in CMM’s laboratory here.

Farkas is internationally known for his work in the field of molecular diagnostics. He has established molecular diagnostics laboratories in three U.S. hospitals and is the first person to be certified by the American Board of Bioanalysis in Molecular Diagnostics. He holds the credentials of high-complexity clinical laboratory director and clinical consultant.

CMM is a joint venture between Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health. The center combines Spectrum’s clinical resources and VAI’s translational research and bioinformatics expertise with the latest in genomics and proteomics technology.

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