February/March 2017

Philadelphia Coalition for a Cure: Re-defining Cancer Research Through Collaboration

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The newly launched Philadelphia Coalition for a Cure (PC4C) received a warm welcome at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in honor of World Cancer Day. Five regional cancer academic treatment centers and two pediatric hospitals met hospitals met Feb. 3 to announce the collaboration that is the nation’s first city-wide brain tumor precision-medicine research partnership to benefit both adult and pediatric brain tumor patients. In time, the PC4C plans to expand treatment to include additional tumor and cancer types.

“Together we’re embarking on an incredibly exciting journey toward revolutionizing cancer care,” said Jay Storm, MD, chief of the division of Neurosurgery at CHOP.

The PC4C is a first-in-kind cooperative clinical diagnostics and research initiative focused on assessing and developing leading-edge technologies and diagnostic platforms through shared initiatives to benefit adult and pediatric brain tumor patients. The collaboration is committed to streamlining research and precision medicine efforts. They will work together and with commercial partners and payers to advance data-driven discovery through the rapid sharing and release of data to the entire research community through open science initiatives.

“Brain tumors are the leading cause of disease-related death in children and more than 20,000 adults are diagnosed each year,” Dr. Storm said. “Working with PC4C, we hope to define a new collaborative clinical and research ecosystem that harnesses partnerships among leading academic centers, commercial partners, and insurers to identify therapies and accelerate discovery.”

PC4C is empowering data-driven discovery and improving treatments for brain tumors through therapies that are individually tailored and specific to the biology of each patient’s tumor, young or old, with the aim of reducing toxic side effects and increasing the therapeutic effectiveness of targeted approaches. This new targeted approach will provide researchers with access to GPS Cancer, a comprehensive molecular profiling and diagnostics test which integrates whole genome (DNA) sequencing, whole transcriptome (RNA) sequencing, and quantitative proteomics to provide oncologists with a comprehensive molecular profile of a patient’s cancer. This clinical test, funded in-part by grants to Children’s Hospital of Orange County and supplied by NantHealth Inc., can inform personalized treatment strategies and identify therapies that may have clinical benefits for the patient.

Healthcare insurance provider Independence Blue Cross (IBC) is also at the forefront of this new initiative, by providing full-coverage for GPS Cancer testing of all IBC-insured patients at each of the participating PC4C member institutions. For non-IBC insured brain tumor patients, additional grant support will be provided to cover the cost for the GPS Cancer test.

All patient-consented data for the PC4C will be accessible to the research community via Cavatica, a biomedical data analysis and storage platform that, for the first time, will integrate adult and pediatric brain tumor data. These efforts leverage the recently launched Children’s Brain Tumor Atlas initiative, another large-scale Cancer Breakthrough 2020 data initiative.

“The PC4C is made up of many individuals and institutions who are coming together to change the way we care for cancer patients of all ages by changing the culture to one of openness, sharing, and collaboration,” Dr. Storm said. “That is going to lead to new innovations that will occur quickly. One of the mandates of the PC4C is that all the data has to be shared immediately, in real time. There is going to be no data embargo. As soon as it’s generated, it’s going to be made available to the entire scientific community in a protected cloud environment that anyone can access. This kind of sharing is clearly a paradigm shift for academic medicine.”

PC4C member institutions include the division of Neurosurgery and Center for Data Driven Discovery at CHOP, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Drexel Neurosciences Institute at Drexel University College of Medicine and The Hyundai Cancer Institute at The Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

“There have not been many breakthroughs for children with brain tumors in many, many years, and the Philadelphia Coalition for a Cure is going to change that for all of us,” said Madeline Bell, CEO of CHOP. “We can really make a difference for all of our patients.”

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