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Actionable Genome Consortium Forms to Guide Use of NGS in Clinical Oncology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Illumina, along with four cancer centers, today announced the formation of the Actionable Genome Consortium to guide the widespread use of next-generation sequencing in clinical oncology.

Along with Illumina, the founding members of AGC are the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Their goal is to define what constitutes a "cancer actionable genome," or the genomic changes that define an individual patient's tumor, so that oncologists and pathologists can determine optimal therapies and testing strategies to improve patient outcomes.

AGC said that what currently defines a genome as actionable varies, and interpreting genomic tests remains a substantial challenge. The consortium also noted that patients do not have access to multidisciplinary tumor boards, including those at major cancer centers, which define what an actionable event in a tumor is.

AGC has developed and will publish a list of actionable events; recommendations for best practices for biopsy, sample storage and transport, and extraction; and technical performance standards for DNA sequencing. Additionally, it will make recommendations for standards for variant calling, annotation and interpretation, and guidelines for the format and content of clinical reports.

The recommendations, AGC said, will lead to the development of in vitro diagnostics and provide information to support the regulatory oversight of genomic testing for cancer and the reimbursement of such tests.

The consortium will also include a research arm to leverage the scientific, clinical, and technical capabilities of the member institutions for collaborative, cross-institutional projects aimed at grand challenges in molecular oncology, it said.

"Oncology is as ready as any area of medicine to see the genomic revolution become the core of medical practice," Charles Sawyers, chair of the human oncology and pathogenesis program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said in a statement. "Patients will be more likely to receive the proper targeted course of therapy from the outset when the community oncologist is aware of standard molecular testing procedures and how to interpret these test results."

Rick Klausner, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Illumina, added that the consortium is "an extraordinary gathering of experts and decision makers in clinical and molecular oncology, pathology, and technology who, by proposing the standards by which every tumor will be sequenced, will move the field of clinical oncology into the era of precision."