Breast cancer patients will soon benefit from a Scottsdale institute's test that helps identify how tumors will behave, providing valuable assistance for oncologists in formulating tailor-made treatment plans.
The Translational Genomics Research Institute and the International Genomics Consortium announced Wednesday they formed the Molecular Profiling Institute, a national reference laboratory that uses discoveries from the Human Genome Project to analyze cancers from individual patients.
“What MPI does is it provides testing capabilities to doctors in the United States that typically don't get that sort of testing done in their own hospitals,” said Dr. Robert J. Penny, Molecular Profiling Institute president.
“These are what we term esoteric tests, ones are not traditionally done in hospitals, but are being introduced and are becoming important to get out to patient care.”
By identifying the individual molecular profile of a person's cancer, the Molecular Profiling Institute helps oncologists and pathologists to provide better customized therapeutic options for their patients, Penny said. The foundation will do a nationwide roll out of its MammaPrint test next month. The test is expected to be most helpful to recently diagnosed patients.
“There are 70 genes that they look at,” Penny said. “They put those 70 genes together to decide how that tumor is going to behave. Is it going to be aggressive and metastasize? Is it going to affect survival? Or is not going to be aggressive, what we would term more indolent, and not metastasize.”
Once physicians know the tumor profile, they can better recommend therapies to their patients, he said.
“You can identify patients that currently aren't being treated that need to be treated because it's an aggressive disease, but your current parameters don't tell you that,” Penny said. “You can also help identify patients that don't have aggressive disease that currently are getting treated.” The Molecular Profiling Institute is owned by TGen, a nonprofit medical institute that is making genomic discoveries into advances in human health and IGC, a nonprofit medical research foundation established to expand upon the discoveries of the Human Genome Project.
The institute was started in collaboration with Scottsdale Healthcare in laboratories at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center. Portions of the institute will leave the center and relocate in downtown Phoenix.
“It was a great incubator,” Penny said of the center. “We've matured the organization there. There will portions of MPI as well as IGC that are planned to be there working at Scottsdale Healthcare and hopefully that will grow as well.” Molecular Profiling Institute obtained $1.35 million in investment capital from the Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation, the Flynn Foundation, AmeriPath and San Diego-based EA Management.
“The launch of MPI is consistent with TGen's mission to do excellent science, find ways to move discoveries into the practice of medicine and to spawn the formation of for-profit companies," said Richard Love, TGen chief operating officer, in a prepared statement.
Molecular Profiling Institute also partnered with AmeriPath, the largest organization of hospital-based pathologists in the United States. They see about 3.5 million patients a year in the United States in more than 20 states, Penny said. It offers a broad range of testing and information services used by physicians in the detection, diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of cancer and other diseases and medical conditions.
Launched in September 2003, a Molecular Profiling Institute program called Target Now is now available to cancer patients.
“It's more of a research-based test,” Penny said. “We offer this to patients who have failed traditional chemotherapy. It's an experimental basis. It's not something that we are really going out and marketing. We do it, but really its been spread by word of mouth.”
Patients can have their cancer sampled, profiled and assessed to determine which drugs will be of greatest benefit for their tumor tissue. “We'll obviously have other tests that we'll be introducing as well as we move forward,” Penny said. "That's part of the mission of TGen and IGC is to get these tests out to patients to make that translation.”