Foundation Medicine Partners with Memorial Sloan-Kettering on Genomic Diagnostic for Blood Cancers

May 2, 2013

By Allison Proffitt 
May 2, 2013 | Foundation Medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center today announced a partnership to release a molecular diagnostic product designed to match patients with hematologic cancers (leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma) with the most rational targeted therapies or clinical trials for their cancer. This new product will complement FoundationOne, Foundation Medicine’s first product launched last year (see, “Laying the Foundation for Next-Gen Cancer Diagnostics”), which offers a similar genomic profile for solid tumors. 
“The test for hematologic malignancies is something that we have been quietly working on for some time now, and we see the relationship with Memorial Sloan-Kettering as an opportunity for us to continue the test development and to—frankly—work with the leading hematologists and oncologists in the country to make sure we are then bringing a test to the market that is going to have the maximum impact on patients diagnosed with these diseases,” CEO Michael Pellini, told Bio-IT World. 
The test will be based on technology, methods, and computational algorithms developed by Foundation Medicine, and Foundation Medicine will commercialize the test both in the United States and internationally. Pellini says he expects the test to be available by the end of the year. Memorial Sloan-Kettering will help accelerate the development and optimization of the product by contributing their clinical and genomic expertise in hematologic malignancies.
The test for hematologic malignancies will obviously deal with new sample types—blood samples and bone marrow. This new test is also being developed using RNA sequencing in addition to DNA sequencing to better enable identification of the unique genes and classes of genomic alterations that are characteristic of hematologic malignancies. 
“We have to make sure that the genes that are being covered in this test are appropriate for all types of hematologic malignancies as well,” Pellini explained. “In many cases there’s a tremendous overlap with those for solid tumors, but in some cases they do not overlap with solid tumors. Just as we made sure that FoundationOne for solid tumors was a comprehensive, state of the art test for such tumors, we also need to make sure that this test for hematologic malignancies is comprehensive, is state of the art, to make sure that oncologists get the maximum insight into the patient’s cancer, and that we maximize the benefit of this approach for patients with hematological malignancies.” 
Similar to FoundationOne, the new hematologic malignancy test will assist physicians by matching these alterations with targeted treatment options that may be relevant to the patient’s genomic profile based on a comprehensive review of published literature, the company said in the announcement today. 
FoundationOne results are delivered to physicians and oncologists in user-friendly reports that include mutation analysis, relevant targeted drugs, and potentially-appropriate clinical trials. The final report will have a very strong human element, Pellini told Bio-IT World last year about the FoundationOne test, with reports reviewed by a staff oncologist and pathologist with expertise in genomics before it is sent out. 
“Even if we jump ahead a year and populating the report is largely automated, our medical director will be responsible for the accuracy of the information,” Pellini said then. “There will always be the involvement of an oncologist and pathologist in the final report.”
Foundation Medicine is not yet revealing the output plans for the hematologic test in such detail.