New, community-oncology-based informatics effort sets up in South Carolina

Guardian Research Network partners with Molecular Health's genomic data warehousing

Gathering cancer patients for clinical trials is never easy, and the current emphasis on personalized medicine based on genetic profiles is raising the level of difficulty. Now, Molecular Health (Heidelberg, Germany; US HQ in Cambridge, MA), which has spent over a decade developing Big Data tools to sift through patient information and genetic profiles, is addressing this challenge with a new community-based network being set up by Gibbs Cancer Center and the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg, SC, to be called the Guardian Research Network. The overall objective is to identify cancer patients by cancer and genomic profile (using data to be derived from electronic health records, or EHRs), who can then either quickly be matched with ongoing clinical trials, or to have their treatment guided by profile data. Guardian Network says that about a dozen community-based oncology practices have joined the consortium already, and the goal is to have a national network which will cover “hundreds of thousands” of patients.

Compiling patient histories for trials or therapies is not novel; many nationally recognized cancer centers have their own efforts ongoing, and other efforts, ranging from President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative (announced during his latest State of the Union address) to 23andMe, which sells personal DNA diagnostic kits to consumers and offers to assist them in joining trials. Guardian’s proposition appears to be novel in that it connects with community oncology practices that don’t have the national presence but do have access to large numbers of patients.

Molecular Health’s main product is TreatmentMap, which is said to automate the interpretation of genetic, molecular and clinical data, thereby assisting in treatment options and guiding new research. Molecular Health has an existing arrangement similar to the Guardian Network’s with MD Anderson Cancer Center, and has been collaborating with FDA on SafetyMAP, an extension of the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). With Guardian, TreatmentMAP and other tools will support "clinical trial matching, patient stratification and cohort analytics," according to Molecular Health.