November 24, 2021

Cleveland Clinic Expands Cancer Genomic Testing Capabilities

Molecular tumor profiling is available to patients

Man working on laboratory equipment. DNA research on computer screens

In order to better understand a patient’s cancer and identify potential therapeutic targets, Cleveland Clinic now offers an advanced genomic testing platform as standard of care to patients with cancer.

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This expanded capability to test tumor samples involves whole exome sequencing, which examines all the portions of DNA in the genes that are responsible for making proteins in the body, and RNA sequencing that assesses how these proteins are encoded. This combination provides a comprehensive snapshot of the defects that may drive cancer growth. Clinicians can connect patients with individualized treatment aimed at those defects in hopes of improving clinical outcomes and quality of life.

With the ability to sequence and analyze more genomic data, Cleveland Clinic is able to access and interpret tumor complexity. The new technology enables researchers to examine 22,000 genes in the human genome—the most extensive profiling available today. Previous testing was limited to the standard 600 or fewer known genes associated with cancer. Cleveland Clinic can access the whole transcriptome (RNA) and has an effective tool to look for gene fusions, which are a combination of two genes that, when combined, can cause or contribute to cancer.

“Industry-leading tumor profiling coupled with our precision oncology initiatives and developmental therapeutics programs give our patients greater access to the latest potentially lifesaving options,” says Timothy Chan, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Immunotherapy and Precision Immuno-Oncology.

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“This technology is a critical new tool for physicians to develop individualized treatment plans for patients based on their unique genomic profile,” Dr. Chan continues. “It’s also an opportunity for our patients to learn about their own disease while participating in precision oncology-driven clinical trials.”

Advancing treatment through clinical trials

Clinical trials underway at Cleveland Clinic are testing treatments that may impact the genetic alterations revealed by tumor genomic testing. These trials can make a difference for patients whose tumor testing reveals something for which there is a drug, or helps to inform the development of new targeted therapies.

“Implementing advanced oncology profiling for our patients means we can find unexpected, pertinent information about their cancer that allows us to personalize treatment,” explains Brian Rubin, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Robert J. Tomsich Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute.

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“Access to genomic sequencing, comprehensive data information, medical oncology and pathology expertise allows us to offer a complete diagnostic and treatment plan,” Dr. Rubin continues. “The data turns cancer treatment into a ‘stealth bullet’ that enables us to contextualize genetic mutations to provide targeted therapies.”

This effort is a collaboration between Cleveland Clinic Center for Immunotherapy and Precision Oncology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute, and Taussig Cancer Institute.

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