Moffitt Cancer Center, which began assembling a database of cancer patient tissue and clinical information a decade ago, is going national.
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center on Wednesday was named the first partner in the Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, or ORIEN.
Moffitt’s for-profit subsidiary, M2Gen, will oversee the database’s operations. It already contains information on more than 105,000 patients.
Officials said this sharing and creation of “big data” may be one of the largest collaborations of its kind. It allows cancer researchers to pinpoint discoveries and focus research efforts more quickly. It also will allow researchers developing and testing cancer drugs for pharmaceutical companies a larger pool of potential candidates for clinical trials.
“Until today we’ve had no system to quickly match cancer patients from anywhere in the country with ongoing clinical research with the most potential to help them,” Alan F. List, M.D., president and CEO of Moffitt, said in a statement. “By partnering with The Ohio State University through ORIEN, we’ve built a cancer research expressway.”
The current clinical and molecular data biorepository includes patient information from Moffitt and a network of 17 other hospitals.
OSU researchers in January started collecting data using Moffitt’s “Total Cancer Care” protocol, which follows a cancer patient long term, not only while they are being treated for cancer. More than 85 percent of all new patients coming to OSU’s center have consented to participate in this new protocol, spokeswoman Amanda Harper said.
This collaboration also increases chances that pharmaceutical companies will be more interested in doing business. M2Gen, despite a promising launch and partnership with major drug maker Merck in 2006, reported last year that it had fallen short of financial expectations.
William S. Dalton, president and CEO of M2Gen, said the system will increase efficiencies and speed up the drug approval process.
“M2Gen will facilitate what we view as the ideal way to conduct cancer research and help patients – an approach that promotes collaborative learning at all levels,” Dalton said in a statement. “The goal of our joint efforts...is to connect patients to the best treatment options, including clinical trials, by accelerating the discovery and delivery of personalized medicine.”
OSU’s Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute and Moffitt are both among the nation’s 41 comprehensive cancer centers, as designated by the National Cancer Institutes. But the ORIEN collaborative aims to partner with other cancer centers in North America, Moffitt spokeswoman Patricia Kim said.