Medical Laboratories Take Note: Canadian Lab Company Is Giving Free Genetic Tests for Cancer Screening to 1,500 Patient as Way to Advance Personalized Medicine

Some cancer researchers worry that these patients may not benefit from such clinical laboratory testing because effective therapeutic drugs don’t exist for their cancers

What can be more patient-centric than for a medical laboratory company to offer free genetic tests for cancer? That’s the strategy of a firm in Canada that is offering free cancer genomics testing to 1,500 cancer patients. However, some cancer researchers responded to this offer with skepticism.

In March, Contextual Genomics of Vancouver, British Columbia, began providing its cancer genomics test free to the first 1,500 patients whose oncologists submitted tumor samples. These specimens would be tested using the company’s Find It hotspot cancer panel.

“You could call it marketing, but it’s making this test available to people who haven’t had access to it before,” stated Chris Wagner, Contextual Genomics President and CEO, in a CBC News Canada interview.

Contextual Genomics says its Find It test focuses on “90 hotspots across 29 known cancer genes and analyzes seven exons of three genes,” with the specific genes and mutations selected because they are “actionable and can potentially direct patient treatment, indicate prognosis, and support diagnosis.” Oncologists that participate in this commercial pilot program will receive a comprehensive report that interprets the sequencing results. The report also identifies any approved drugs or clinical trials that target the patient’s gene mutations. (more…)