Bayer, Life Raft Group Collaborate to Improve Access to CGP for GIST Patients

Bayer, Life Raft Group Collaborate to Improve Access to CGP for GIST Patients
Credit: Giulio Fornasar/Getty Images

Bayer Pharmaceuticals, and The Life Raft Group (LRG), a non-profit with focused on curing gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) announced today they have extended a research collaboration to broaden access to comprehensive genomic testing GIST patients, with the intent to identify patients who may benefit from precision care.

GISTs are a type of soft tissue sarcoma—cancers that develop in connective or supporting tissues —that affect an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people in the U.S. each year. One genomic alteration that can drive the growth and spread of GIST is an NTRK gene fusion. There are currently treatments for GIST driven by NTRK gene fusions approved in the U.S.

“As part of our commitment to precision oncology, we believe identifying NTRK patients early through comprehensive genomic testing is a critical step in the cancer diagnosis of oncology patients experiencing metastatic disease, as it helps physicians understand the underlying drivers of tumor growth and can inform the treatment approach,” said Iain Webb, M.D., vice president, U.S. Medical Affairs, Oncology at Bayer. “That is why we are pleased to collaborate with The Life Raft Group to increase the availability of comprehensive genomic testing for GIST patients to potentially uncover NTRK gene fusions and provide options for those who may benefit from precision oncology treatments.”

Criteria for patients to participate in this program include: be a U.S. resident, be or become a part of The Life Raft Group GIST Patient Registry, have a treating oncologist, must not have had any type of prior comprehensive genomic testing (basic mutational testing or next-generation sequencing), or have previously been identified with wildtype c-KIT or PDGFRA results from basic mutational testing.

The Life Raft Group, based in Wayne, NJ, is a global leader in GIST, focused on educating patients, providing resources, and launching initiatives for the community for better patient outcomes. This collaboration is an example of the vital role patient advocacy groups play in bridging the gap between researchers and motivated patient populations willing to be part of innovative studies.

“We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking opportunity to work with great organizations to pave the road towards precision medicine and to help us to reach our goal of increasing the testing rate among GIST patients,” said Denisse Montoya, Patient Registry Director at The Life Raft Group. “By offering comprehensive genomic testing with no charge, many patients will have the opportunity to know what genes are driving their GIST and benefit from genetic-informed care. Results from this testing collaboration will help us understand more traits and patterns within GIST that will help us with our aim of accelerating GIST cancer research.”