By Stephanie Murg, Managing Director, G2 Intelligence
The University of Virginia (UVA) Health System is pursuing the promises of precision medicine with its own clinical genomics laboratory. The new CLIA-certified facility, a collaborative effort of the UVA Medical Center and the School of Medicine, is a centralized resource for molecular diagnostic testing and next-generation sequencing that seeks not only to help physicians better tailor treatment but also to facilitate UVA’s involvement with clinical trials.
At this time, some of the greatest opportunities for the laboratory’s advanced technologies are in cancer care. “By sequencing the cancer, we can figure out, ‘Oh, they have this particular mutation, so that means they may have a better chance of responding to a particular therapy that’s either out there in the clinic or that’s being developed in clinical trials,'” says Mani S. Mahadevan, M.D., a professor in the Department of Pathology and medical director of the Clinical Genomics and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratories. “This is particularly useful for patients with lung cancer, colon cancer, melanomas, brain cancer, and blood cancers like the leukemias.”
The facility will also be a valuable resource for the diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders. “This technology allows us to sequence over 4,500 genes at once in a child and a child’s parents to help us find out if there’s a genetic basis for their clinical condition,” says Mahadevan. “That panel covers pretty much most of the known genetic disorders.”
And at a time when clinical trials are increasingly qualifying participants based on their genetic profile, the laboratory puts UVA in prime position. Notes Mahadevan, “Having this capability in the facility here enables UVA’s Cancer Center and the hospital to provide state-of-the-art clinical care for our cancer patients as well as to get involved in cutting-edge trials.”