Strata, UW Health team up to bring genomic testing to more cancer patients

A precision oncology company Strata Oncology entered into a partnership Wednesday to improve cancer care in University of Wisconsin Carbon Cancer Center.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company announced that discrete genomic data from its next generation sequencing (NGS) tumor profiling test will be integrated into UW Health’s Epic genomics module.

Under the partnership, Strata will receive electronic orders for NGS tests from UW Health’s Epic EHR and transmit the results directly back into the patient’s chart. This initiative is designed to simplify the ordering process for UW Health clinicians by extracting patient demographics and related information from the EHR to automatically fill the order.

The Strata test simultaneously sequences DNA and RNA to produce quantitative gene expression results for nine biomarkers. The results of this test give doctors a comprehensive picture that they can use to guide their patients’ cancer treatment. Each patient receives a personalized report that provides their doctor with targeted treatment recommendations. It can also compare patients with locally available pharmaceutical trials.

Strata’s 437-gene NGS test differentiates itself from other NGS tests with the industry’s low tumor sample size requirements, according to Justin Brown, the company’s senior vice president of clinical partnerships. About half of patients with advanced cancer may have insufficient tissue for leading conventional genomic profiling (CGP) tests, but Strata’s NGS test requires 10 times less tissue than those tests, he said. This allows Strata to offer genomic tumor profiling to patients for whom it was previously unavailable.

For context, a Strata study published last year in JCO Precision Oncology found that only 41% of tumor tissue samples obtained for conventional genomic profiling met the requirements of several leading tests. On the other hand, the study found that Strata’s NGS test was able to provide informative results for more than 94% of patients who submitted tumor samples.

The partnership between UW Health and Strata builds on the latter longtime relationship with the University of Wisconsin-Carbon Cancer Center, Brown said. The center was one of the sites that participated in the the clinical study which validated the company’s NGS test, and Strata announced in May that it had joined as a partner Trial for Precise Indications for Approved Therapies (PATH).. The PATH trial is an ongoing trial investigating the efficacy of multiple cancer drugs in novel indications for Strata-defined biomarkers.

“In such a data-driven age, many health systems are looking for ways to make their data more readily available to physicians to guide treatment decisions,” Brown said. “We look forward to similar integrations with other partners in the future.”

The partnership will help UW Health further its research and understanding of cancer by allowing oncologists to more effectively use genomic discoveries in their treatment plans, Brown said. Cancer care is moving in a direction that relies more and more on dynamic and easily accessible information, he added.

“The status quo of genomic reporting is years behind where it needs to be—many oncologists receive genomic reports as physical pieces of paper or scanned documents,” Brown said. “Integrating genomic findings directly into UW Health’s EHR can make this information available more quickly and in an easily searchable format. The end result is a stronger organization and faster informed decision making.”

For Brown, this integration reflects the future of precision oncology, which seeks to use genomic data to provide each patient with personalized, optimal treatment.

Other vendors are taking note of this evolution. Based in New Orleans Ochsner Health add a tool to its Epic EHR last month, which allows doctors to seamlessly order Tempus‘ NGS tests and based in Missouri MU Healthcare incorporated genomic test ordering tool in it Oracle Cerner EHR in June.

Photo: iLexx, Getty Images

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