SRHS, Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute join landmark study to detect cancer early

Published on Friday, December 2, 2016

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Courtesy The CLUTCH

"Detecting cancer at an earlier stage when it can be cured is an ambitious goal, with the potential for immeasurable benefit to society."

Dr. Timothy Yeatman

President of Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute and Chief Scientific Officer of Guardian Research Network


Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute, founding members of Guardian Research Network, have joined a multi-center clinical team organized by GRAIL, Inc., a life sciences company whose mission is to detect cancer early when it can be cured. GRAIL’s first multi-center clinical study is the Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study to facilitate the development of GRAIL’s blood test for early-stage cancer detection. 

“We are very pleased to be working with GRAIL and other collaborators on this landmark study, and we have already begun enrolling study participants across our broad network of cancer centers and hospitals in the U.S.,” said Dr. Timothy Yeatman, President of Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute and Chief Scientific Officer of Guardian Research Network. “Detecting cancer at an earlier stage when it can be cured is an ambitious goal, with the potential for immeasurable benefit to society. We are proud to support this initiative.”

Guardian Research Network (GRN) is a nationwide consortium of high-performing community health systems that created a 21st century breakthrough platform for accelerating cures for cancer. GRN’s founding members include: Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute, Baptist Health, Louisville, Ky.; Mercy, Saint Louis, Mo.; and Bon Secours Health System, Marriottsville, Md.

The initial collaborators in the CCGA study include: medical centers of the Guardian Research Network, Mayo Clinic (Minnesota, Arizona and Florida) and Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute, a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance. 

GRAIL has assembled leading cancer research and clinical oncology experts from the academic and medical community to serve as CCGA Scientific Advisory Board members: 

Timothy Yeatman, MD, Guardian Research Network, Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute

Jose Baselga, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 

Funda Meric-Bernstam, MD, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Benjamin Ebert, MD, Harvard, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Broad Institute

Keith Flaherty, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

Gail Jarvik, MD, PhD, University of Washington, Seattle

Richard Klausner, MD, GRAIL director and co-founder  Minetta Liu, MD, Mayo Clinic

The CCGA study will characterize the landscape of cell-free DNA profiles in individuals with cancer and in healthy non-cancer participants using GRAIL’s “high-intensity” (ultra-broad and ultra-deep) sequencing approach, leveraging Illumina sequencing technology. GRAIL was launched in January 2016, with initial investors including Illumina, ARCH Ventures, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Sutter Hill Ventures and GV.

“For too many patients and their families, a late diagnosis of incurable cancer is devastating, and the complexity of cancer has made it challenging to find biomarkers for early-stage detection when the cancer could be cured,” stated Dr. Jose Baselga, PhD, Physician-in-Chief, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Chairman of GRAIL’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and member of the CCGA SAB. 

"The CCGA study will provide a critically important library of knowledge about cell-free nucleic acid profiles in cancer patients and new insights into the biology of cancer at its earliest stages. Of equal importance, the CCGA will characterize the heterogeneity of the population of individuals without cancer, and thus enable the development of models which distinguish people with and without cancer with unprecedented accuracy,” Baselga said. 

“Combining our ability to detect and characterize tumor DNA with our unparalleled computing power, we will convert vast amounts of genomic data into disease insight,” said Jeff Huber, GRAIL’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Our approach will produce more than a terabyte of data per individual thereby creating datasets of a scale and complexity that are unprecedented in genomic medicine. Furthermore, we are committed to conducting large-scale studies to enable the most accurate detection of early-stage disease. Initiating the CCGA study is an important first step for GRAIL and its collaborators, as we pursue our goal of reducing global cancer mortality,” said Huber.

The CCGA study has begun at several leading community and academic medical centers and eventually will include up to four-dozen clinical trial sites across the U.S. These medical centers will collect blood and tissue samples from patients recently diagnosed with cancer, and blood samples from healthy individuals. 

In its first phase, the CCGA study will enroll and analyze samples from 10,000 study participants. GRAIL and its advisors believe that studies enrolling tens of thousands of people will be needed to identify the patterns required to detect many types of cancer. To confirm clinical validity and utility of these tests, studies enrolling hundreds of thousands of people will be needed.






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