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When Intermountain Healthcare diagnoses an individual with late-stage cancer, it soon will be able to search how other entities across the country treated that specific disease.
This sharing of information is known as the Oncology Precision Network, a brainchild of Intermountain, and will involve Stanford Cancer Institute, Providence Health & Services and Syapse, a precision medicine software company.
Intermountain officials started discussing the network about a year ago, but today it received national recognition by Vice President Joe Biden in conjunction with the Cancer Moonshot Summit. The White House listed it among the "new actions to accelerate progress toward ending cancer as we know it."
Jason Gillman, Intermountain's director for precision genomics, noted that Biden's announcement does not result in any additional money or resources for the network.
"It's really a statement of our commitment to changing cancer treatment," Gillman said.
President Barack Obama in his final State of the Union address tasked Biden with jump-starting a "new national effort to end cancer as we know it," according to a White House fact sheet. The Cancer Moonshot's goal is "to make a decade of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care in five years," the fact sheet stated.
The Oncology Precision Network's database will include 79 hospitals and 800 clinics across 11 states. It is expected to impact 50,000 new cancer patients per year, according to the fact sheet.
Intermountain tests DNA from an individual's tumor, which allows physicians to target the specific variant in the tumor with drugs that will only attack that variation, Gillman said. This equates to better, more personalized treatment, he added.
That information soon will be available in a database, accessible to the entities involved in the network, so they can see what other physicians used to treat a certain DNA variation.
This testing currently is done only on individuals with late-stage cancer, but Gillman said it could eventually be utilized for all cancer patients.
Gillman is not sure if Intermountain will need to report back to the White House on its progress, but says he imagines there will be some sort of accountability.