Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and life sciences tools provider Thermo Fisher Scientific announced today they will collaborate to help expand local access to NGS-based lung cancer and breast cancer testing in more than 30 countries in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East in areas where these tests and technologies have been limited or unavailable. The goal is to expand patient access to genetic testing in cancer to help doctors develop more precise therapeutic regimens.
Under the collaboration, Thermo Fisher will identify local laboratories to use the company’s NGS tools to make sure these have the appropriate infrastructure, quality control protocols and trained staff to meet industry standards related to NGS testing for lung and breast cancers. Pfizer’s contribution will be to enable that these tests are affordable in the local areas and will also provide educational outreach to healthcare providers in these regions to raise awareness of the value of NGS testing for guiding cancer care.
“Anyone facing a cancer diagnosis should have access to cutting-edge testing that can match them with an appropriate, optimized treatment plan and better inform their care. Today, we aim to bring rapid NGS testing to an increased number of decentralized labs, closer to where patients are treated,” said Gianluca Pettiti, executive vice president at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “We are moving one step closer to delivering precision insights to underserved patients so they can receive a more tailored path for their care no matter where they are in the world.”
Historically, cancer therapy has been matched to patients based on single gene testing. In recent years, however, this approach—which can often be time consuming and limited based on tissue availability—has given way to testing via a broader set of cancer markers. This more comprehensive testing offers a fasters, more informed method to identify targeted therapies for patients based on the specific molecular profile of their cancer.
A 2022 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology examined real-world data and found that patients diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer found that outcomes such as apparent survival and time to next treatment were significantly compromised if actionable mutations were identified after systemic treatment, such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy, was initiated. However, patients whose treatment initiation was informed by molecular testing showed better outcomes, highlighting the utility of these tests.
“The more we understand the complex science behind cancer, the better we can treat it. Our experience has taught us that cancer cannot always be treated with a broad brush and often requires an individualized approach based on precise disease characteristics,” said Nick Lagunowich, Pfizer global president of emerging markets. “In many parts of the world, access to next-generation sequencing may be limited or unaffordable for cancer patients. This program aims to improve their treatment journey and help increase their chances for improved outcomes.”
While the program will initially focus on breast and lung cancers, the two companies will examine additional opportunities to expand the program both geographically and to include additional cancer types.