News Feature | September 20, 2016

AHN Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins To Provide Molecular Testing For Late-Stage Cancer Patients

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


Collaboration will help identify mutations and hone treatment protocols.

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cancer Institute and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have announced a collaboration that will allow them to provide molecular testing for al AHN patients with certain late-stage cancers. This testing will help identify mutations or genetic alterations so that doctors can determine which treatment protocols and drugs will work best.

This announcement also comes as the Blue Ribbon Panel, designated to advise the country on how to move forward with Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, was given the charge of assessing the current state of cancer diagnosis and treatment and the potential created by the Cancer Moonshot initiative. To that end, the Panel issued a report that included 10 recommendations for what it sees as “the most compelling research opportunities” to fund in order to learn how to more effectively treat and prevent the disease.

Among its recommendations was to find better ways of predicting responses to standard treatments, and to develop new enabling cancer technologies. The AHN-Johns Hopkins collaboration fits well with the goals of the Blue Ribbon Panel.

“By using molecular panel testing, we can gain extraordinary insights into some of the genetic alterations present in each individual’s cancer,” explained Gene Finley, MD, Deputy Director of Medical Oncology, AHN Cancer Institute. “Many tumors carry mutations that make them vulnerable to certain medications, and we can use the information provided by Johns Hopkins to help make the best treatment decisions for our patients.”

The AHN-Johns Hopkins collaborations is benefitting patients throughout the Pittsburgh, PA region by providing access to innovative clinical trials at Johns Hopkins and second opinions, providing comprehensive treatment options for AHN patients. “Our agreement with Johns Hopkins gives us a framework to streamline the ordering of molecular tests, which will in turn expedite the availability of results “ said Jan Silverman, MD, System Chair, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, AHN. “Quick results are particularly essential for our patients with advanced cancers.”

“As we move into a new era in the war on cancer, collaboration among institutions is an essential ingredient to success,” said David Parda, MD, Chair, AHN Cancer Institute. “Our agreement with Johns Hopkins is a perfect example of two great institutions breaking down barriers to share expertise for the benefit of patients. We are working together in a collaborative way to optimize the best methods and approaches for molecular testing and implement best practices.”

Phoenix Children’s Hospital, a founding member of the Cancer MoonShot 2020 Pediatrics Consortium, also announced it has entered into a commercial licensing agreement for NantHealth’s suite of precision medicine and healthcare IT solutions.