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Avera Health, Sema4 Launch Five-Year Precision Oncology Study

NEW YORK – Genetic testing and bioinformatics company Sema4 and integrated care delivery network Avera Health on Wednesday announced a five-year study that they hope will advance precision oncology care.

This initiative, called the Avera/Sema4 Oncology and Analytics Protocol (ASAP) study, will enroll as many as 3,000 patients annually for tumor sequencing and for hereditary cancer and pharmacogenomics testing. Subjects will include both those already diagnosed with cancer and those determined to be at risk for developing cancer.

Sema4 and Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Avera Health will analyze the clinical and genomic data they collect to improve understanding of the molecular characteristics of cancer patients and those at risk for cancer, as well as to identify targeted treatment options.

The ASAP study is an outgrowth of a year-old collaboration to develop a data-driven precision medicine program at Avera Health, which has more than 300 locations in the Upper Midwest. ASAP had a soft launch in November ahead of the official announcement today.

The existing initiative, which also started in oncology, is applying Sema4's Centrellis cloud-based health intelligence platform to manage, structure, analyze, and integrate genomic and clinical data collected through the Avera Cancer Institute. It builds on a precision oncology program the institute has had for several years that involved sequencing cancer patients' tumors to guide their treatment.

"We are confident this study will build off of a strong foundation and benefit the health of thousands of patients in our community now and in the future," Casey Williams, Avera's CSO and executive director of cancer research, said in a statement. "Our goal is to impact a greater patient population, collaborate with other health systems, and, ultimately, provide access to best-in-class genomics and data-driven decision support for early risk identification and detection, prevention, treatment, and wellness to all eligible patients in the footprint, including in underserved areas across the region."

Sema4 and Avera will present a poster on the ASAP study at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, which begins Friday in Chicago.