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Contextual Genomics, Personalized Medicine Initiative Launch Tumor Profiling Project in Canada

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Personalized Medicine Initiative and molecular diagnostics firm Contextual Genomics have teamed to launch a project in Canada that will use genetic tumor profiling to choose patient's medications, the partners said today.

PMI, a group of Canadian stakeholders focused on molecular medicine and based at the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia, will manage the initiative, called the National Access Project for Cancer Testing.

Along with Contextual Genomics, the initiative also will involve several pharmaceutical companies and 10 clinical sites spread across Canada, although the names of the drug companies and clinical sites were not immediately provided.

Vancouver-based Contextual Genomics has developed a diagnostic panel to test for 90 mutations involved in cancers that are treatable by current medicines and phase III investigational treatments, according to the company's website, and which could be used in cancer prevention, treatment, or monitoring.

"Currently, tumor testing is delivered by a disparate collage of academic laboratories. This leads to non-scalable solutions and inequitable access to molecular testing across the country," Contextual Genomics President and CEO Chris Wagner said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the current system is unlikely to change and has led to frustrated oncologists, pharmaceutical companies, health systems, and ultimately patients."

The partners plan to test 2,000 patients' tumors and provide the results to the patients' physicians for free, and then collect the outcome data to determine if this personalized medicine approach was useful.

"A nationally distributed somatic mutation panel can achieve the scale needed to reduce costs, improve quality, and increase availability regardless of where a patient lives," added PMI COO Rob Fraser.