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Thermo Fisher Scientific, Pfizer Canada Grant C$300K to Study NGS in Colorectal Cancer Care

NEW YORK – Thermo Fisher Scientific, Pfizer Canada, and Colorectal Cancer Canada have awarded a total of C$300,000 ($221,081) to two Canadian healthcare providers to study the use of next-generation sequencing-based testing in colorectal cancer care.

One quality improvement grant will help Southlake Regional Health Centre in Ontario bring NGS testing in-house and study the effects of faster testing in "resource-limited" environments.

"In a community cancer center, the importance of rapid NGS turnaround times cannot be overstated," grantee Shaqil Kassam, a medical oncologist, said in a statement. "By expediting the process from sample collection to data analysis and interpretation, community cancer centers can enhance the quality of care they provide, access more effective treatments, improve patient experiences, and ultimately achieve better clinical outcomes for patients."

The other grant will go to Ju-Yoon Yoon, a pathologist at Unity Health Toronto, to establish a "dynamic informatics system to complement a comprehensive genomic profiling assay," also performed in-house.

"Molecular pathology has rapidly turned into a field of 'data science,' where we are bombarded with gigabytes of information for each patient, especially with larger NGS assays like our custom multi-cancer NGS panel," Yoon said in a statement. "Our project will aim to better manage the data flow through custom clinical and bioinformatics solutions."

Other details were not disclosed. Pfizer said it offers quality improvement grant funding "to support independent projects for systematic and continuous actions that lead to measurable improvement in healthcare services and the health status of individuals and targeted patient groups and do not relate to a Pfizer asset."

Earlier this year, Thermo Fisher and Pfizer signed a partnership to expand NGS-based testing for lung and breast cancer patients in more than 30 countries worldwide.

"We know when patients miss the opportunity to be put on an eligible targeted treatment it negatively impacts their outcomes, but in-house, rapid testing can shift this paradigm," Garret Hampton, president of clinical sequencing and oncology at Thermo Fisher, said in a statement. "The work done by researchers Kassam and Yoon is vital in understanding the impact in-house NGS can have on hospitals, health centers, and patients across Canada."