The Belgian Society of Medical Oncology started a study to examine the value of Broad Agnostic Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Panel Testing Versus Reimbursed Organ-directed NGS

Photo by Mika Baumeister

The Belgian Society of Medical Oncology started A Study to Examine the Value of Broad Agnostic Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Panel Testing Versus Reimbursed Organ-directed NGS: a Belgian Precision Study of the BSMO in Collaboration With the Cancer Center.

Several drugs targeting mutated gene products in cancer cells are available to Belgian patients through reimbursement of the drugs and, soon, by reimbursed organ-specific genomic testing.

Many more additional drugs with sound scientific rationale and preclinical evidence are available through clinical trials. The relevant genes are generally not included in the reimbursed NGS and ad hoc identification of such patients is extremely difficult and thus severely hampering the accrual in such trials. This denies patients a potential access to innovative treatments from which they could benefit and hampers progress.

The same genes can be mutated in other cancer types, other than the reimbursed context, but are not detected due to the organ-specific approach in reimbursed NGS. Examination of these genes with an agnostic approach would give these other patients potential access to the drugs (via various routes, including clinical trials or medical need or otherwise)

The broader panels applied by some Belgian platforms (50-100 genes), sometimes in an agnostic approach, do not cover all potentially actionable genes or not all types of actionable variants in these genes.

Rearrangements which are highly actionable are not systematically covered in NGS testing, but rely on immunohistochemistry (if done at all) of fusion panels testing that requires additional funding.

The various Belgian NGS labs use accredited but heterogeneous methodology and it has been reported that the detection rate of some mutations varies from one site to another.

The investigators estimate that up to 20% of advanced cancer patients could get access to genotype-based treatment that are not covered by the organ-based reimbursement based access to NGS. This can be in the form of off-label application of reimbursed drugs, pharma-sponsored drug development trials that address a specific genotype or pharma sponsored or academic basket trials. Without broad agnostic testing the identification of eligible patients remains extremely difficult. A recent study [A study of genetic characteristics and suitability for targeted cancer treatment (TARGET)] showed that the rate of detection of actionable mutations increased from 28% with local testing to 66% with Foundation Medicine testing.

There are a number of conditions that allow participation, such as:

  • Patients with metastatic solid tumors that are candidates for systemic therapy.
  • Patient showing an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Performance Status of ≤ 2.

and others.

A new clinical trial is recruiting patients in the following locations: Belgium.

Foundation Medicine, Sciensano and Roche Pharma AG are the collaborators in this study.

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