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Foundation Medicine: Revolutionising Oncology Care & Research with Molecular Profiling
Vera Grossmann, Managing Director, Foundation Medicine
As of December 2020, there are over 500 biotechnology companies across the globe that are working towards both a cure for, and targeted therapies to treat, cancer. These organisations have spent thousands of hours in various clinical trials aimed at obtaining a cure and developing therapies to improve treatment options for patients. But the fact remains that every single patient`s tumour has a unique molecular profile and genetic variant(s), making it more and more challenging to keep track of technology advancements and study individual genomic drivers with low prevalence to make significant headway. New disciplines in medicine (such as genomics, molecular biology and bioinformatics) and platforms (i.e. molecular tumor boards) are needed to translate molecular information into clinically meaningful and relevant treatment options for individual patients. Demystifying the molecular makeup of cancer cells has become increasingly important to how patients are treated with precision medicine.
With the help of some of the latest innovations in next-generation sequencing (NGS), revealing DNA mutations in tumours has opened many avenues to explore the vast mysteries of a carcinogenic genome in the human body. Fortunately for patients facing advanced cancer, Foundation Medicine, an acclaimed biotechnology company, is changing the narrative by helping healthcare professionals provide more tailored treatment options for affected patients.
Founded in 2010 in Cambridge, MA, Foundation Medicine is a molecular insights company dedicated to revolutionising cancer care with a deep understanding of genomic changes that contribute to each patient’s unique cancer. The company focuses on designing, developing, and conducting comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) tests. The powerful insights gained from CGP allow for Foundation Medicine’s highly-qualified staff to innovate on personalised healthcare options for the future, while supporting professionals in advocating a tailored care plan for each patient. “It is our mission to generate better molecular insights and increase accessibility for all to such technology,” expresses Vera Grossmann, Managing Director of Foundation Medicine GmbH based in Germany.
As a member of the Roche Group, a global leader in personalised healthcare, Foundation Medicine works with Roche on solutions to create an ecosystem of fully-personalised medicine and targeted therapy in oncology. “The goal is nothing less than to transform cancer care” states Josh Jordan, Lifecycle Leader for Foundation Medicine at Roche.
“Precision medicine, for us, is a reality,” adds Marlene Thomas, Global Lead for Integrated Molecular Medicine at Roche. Marlene and her team are leading the ex-US research program of Roche and Foundation Medicine focusing on evidence-based medicine to support molecular guided therapy options for rare and uncommon cancers and cancers with a high unmet medical need. For example, the global CUPISCO study utilises Foundation Medicine services and compares the efficacy and safety of targeted therapy or cancer immunotherapy versus platinum-based chemotherapy in patients with Cancer of Unknown Primary Site (CUP).
Marlene Thomas, Global Lead for Integrated Molecular Medicine and Josh Jordan, Lifecycle Leader, Foundation Medicine
Vera and her team thoroughly understand the challenges of collecting and analysing patient samples and work to develop the most cutting-edge tests to improve the precision of today’s targeted therapies. As a result of their efforts, Foundation Medicine currently offers three CGP tests for patients with advanced cancer that analyse cancer-related genes across the four main classes of genomic mutations to help understand the genomic makeup of a patient’s tumour. FoundationOne® CDx is an FDA-approved, tissue-based CGP test for solid tumours that is available in several parts of the world. Leveraging NGS technology, it tests for 324 cancer-related genes and creates extensive reports that can support physicians in their process of making targeted therapy or immunotherapy-based treatment decisions. With regards to liquid-biopsy testing for solid tumours, the company’s FDA-approved FoundationOne® Liquid CDx allows for more patients to be tested in a non-invasive manner. All it requires is a blood sample, from which Foundation Medicine’s CGP testing can analyse over 300 cancer-related genes and multiple genomic signatures to help strategise oncology therapies. The company’s FoundationOne® Heme test for hematologic malignancies and sarcomas is designed to interpret DNA and RNA sequence information from over 400 genes and 265 commonly rearranged genes, respectively. “Foundation Medicine is continually investing to explore the clinical utility of CGP through their tests and hopes to find indicators for cancers of unknown primary origin as well,” says Marlene.
Precision medicine is our reality
Foundation Medicine, headquartered in Boston, has come a long way in the decade since its inception in this ever-advancing field of biotechnology. Today, the company employs nearly 1,600 employees, and partners with healthcare organisations and physicians all over the globe. Foundation Medicine has processed over 200,000 patient samples globally this year alone. “Further, we are constantly collaborating with our global partners for instance in Switzerland, China, Israel, Austria, and France to improve precision medicine, all the while supporting local labs as well,” expresses Vera. The company’s FoundationCore genomic database houses the de-identified molecular profiles of over 450,000 patients in a structured manner to help accelerate the development of new, genomically-driven therapies. Additionally, Roche and Foundation Medicine collaborate with experts across the healthcare sector—physicians, patients, health systems— to advance the acceptance and implementation of molecular profiling. “It is not easy to embed CGP into clinical practice, but patients deserve it to be the standard for advanced patient care and that is what our company is working towards,” adds Josh.
With such comprehensive and scientific knowledge about ongoing cancer research and therapy, Foundation Medicine, in collaboration with Roche, is set to create waves of change and better the lives of millions throughout the world. Moving forward, the company hopes to increase clinical adoption of CGP internationally at affordable costs, while equipping local labs and research teams with high quality and clinically validated oncology testing products.
Management Vera Grossmann, Managing Director and Marlene Thomas, Global Lead for Integrated Molecular Medicine and Josh Jordan, Lifecycle Leader , Foundation Medicine
Description Foundation Medicine is a molecular information company dedicated to a transformation in cancer care in which treatment is informed by a deep understanding of the genomic changes that contribute to each patient's unique cancer. The company offers a full suite of comprehensive genomic profiling assays to identify the molecular alterations in a patient’s cancer and match them with relevant targeted therapies, immunotherapies and clinical trials. Foundation Medicine’s molecular information platform aims to improve day-to-day care for patients by serving the needs of clinicians, academic researchers and drug developers to help advance the science of molecular medicine in cancer
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