DNA code with Nasopharyngeal carcinoma cell under microscopy
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Regional integrated health network Avera Health, with more than 300 locations in the Upper Midwest, and AI-enabled genomic and clinical data intelligence company Sema4 announced today the formal launch of a five-year population health study focused on improving precision oncology care.

Dubbed the Avera/Sema4 Oncology and Analytics Protocol (ASAP) study, the research initiative will seek to enroll as many as 3,000 patients per year who either already have cancer or are at risk of developing the disease. Genomic and clinical care data collected over the course of the five-year study will be used to better understand the molecular characteristics of all stages of cancer to improve precision care over a patient’s entire cancer journey.

“Avera has been dedicated to innovation in cancer care,” said Casey Williams, Avera’s CSO and executive director of Cancer Research in a press release. “We are confident this study will build off of a strong foundation and benefit the health of thousands of patients in our community now and in the future. Our goal is to impact a greater patient population, collaborate with other health systems, and, ultimately, provide access to best-in-class genomics and data-driven decision support for early risk identification and detection, prevention, treatment, and wellness to all eligible patients in the footprint, including in underserved areas across the region.”

The ASAP study, which had a soft launch at the end of 2021, will include patients diagnosed with a malignancy or who are at risk of developing cancer, some of whom live in underserved communities with significant disparities in healthcare access.

Data from ASAP will be analyzed using Sema4’s Centrellis health intelligence platform. It will abstract, curate, and annotate the clinical data from the electronic health records of participants and link it to genomic information to identify patterns of cancer risk and progression. Sema4 has already curated an initial clinical data set from the soft launch and has created dashboards that are today providing additional insights to Avera clinicians.

Genomic data for the study will be captured using Sema4’s Signal whole exome/transcriptome sequencing, a tissue-based comprehensive genomic profiling test that captures genomic data from roughly 18,500 genes. The study will also employ Sema4’s hereditary cancer test for patients with and without cancer, along with pharmacogenomic testing to help determine have genetic variations within patients may impact treatment efficacy and safety.

“Sema4 is committed to collaboration with Avera to create a diverse clinical-genomic dataset that will be utilized to set the highest standard for personalized cancer diagnosis and care in the United States,” said William K. Oh, CMO of Sema4. “Data collected across this patient population will aid in advancing our knowledge of cancer biology, further enhancing predictive disease network models that enable the delivery of precision medicine as the standard of care.”

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