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Innovative study brings next-generation genome sequencing to London cancer patients

Lawson contributing to a province-wide database of genomic and clinical data that can help patients find the most beneficial treatments

Drs. Stephen Welch and Bekim Sadikovic in a lab

Dr. Stephen Welch (left) is the principal investigator and Dr. Bekim Sadikovic (right) is the laboratory lead for the London site of the OCTANE trial.

Understanding a cancer’s genetics is key to selecting targeted therapies that are likely to be of the most benefit to a patient. The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) has announced a new study, called Ontario-wide Cancer TArgeted Nucleic Acid Evaluation (OCTANE). OCTANE will use next-generation genome sequencing technology to bring a unified molecular profiling approach to five Ontario cancer centres, including the London Regional Cancer Program at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC)’s Victoria Hospital.

The London-based study, conducted by Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson), will contribute to the creation of OCTANE’s province-wide database of participating patients’ genomic and clinical data. This database can help patients find approved treatments, or to enrol in experimental targeted therapies that are being evaluated through clinical trials. By sharing data across the five sites, OCTANE will also help to inform the development of future treatments and research studies.

“The data collected by next-generation genome sequencing – technology used to decode DNA so that abnormalities can be detected – will be a very important resource for scientists and clinicians to draw on. The hope is that this information will help us to provide the best possible care for patients with all types of cancer,” says Dr. Stephen Welch, medical director of Lawson’s Cancer Clinical Research Unit and oncologist at LHSC, who is the principal investigator for the London site of the OCTANE trial.

“This technology has been used in clinical testing for the past three years at LHSC but this is the first application for direct assessment of patients’ tumour tissues in a clinical setting,” says Dr. Bekim Sadikovic, head of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory at LHSC and the laboratory lead for the London trial site.

The resource created by the collection of blood and tissue samples from study participants can be used to help scientists develop the next generation of genomic biomarkers. Biomarkers are measurable biological indicators within the body that can be used to diagnose a disease, assess its state and/or measure the effects of treatment. They form the foundation of clinical tests that provide doctors with important information about normal or disease states. The biomarkers developed with the aid of OCTANE data will improve the ability of clinicians to select the best treatment for patients with cancer, based on the unique profile of their tumour.

Along with the London site, OCTANE is now open at Juravinski Cancer Centre (Hamilton), Kingston Health Sciences Centre, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (Toronto) and The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre. The study is open to patients already being treated for advanced solid tumours at one of the participating study sites who have undergone no more than two previous attempts at treating their cancer and who meet the other criteria for entry into the study.

A selection of OCTANE participant samples will undergo additional analysis at the PM-OICR Translational Genomics Laboratory, which is a new advanced research facility established to expand the use of genomics and other forms of molecular profiling in the clinic. Insights from analyses conducted on these samples will be provided to researchers at the five OCTANE study sites to inform the development of future clinical trials.

More information for patients and oncologists is available at: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02906943

The national OICR press release announcing the new study is available at: https://news.oicr.on.ca/2017/09/innovative-study-brings-next-generation-genomic-sequencing-to-more-ontario-cancer-patients/

Frequently Asked Questions about OCTANE are available at: https://news.oicr.on.ca/octane_patient_faqs/