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Horizon Discovery Group to Support Cancer Research UK’s Stratified Medicine Program

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Horizon Discovery Group plc will be providing genomic Reference Materials to support Phase Two of Cancer Research UK’s Stratified Medicine Programme (SMP). Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. 

The work will focus on supporting the validation of a Cancer Research UK SMP Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) targeted enrichment panel, using Horizon’s HDx human genomic Reference Materials. The NGS project involves multi-gene, multi-aberration tumor analysis and is being run in CPA, GLP and ISO accredited laboratories, with a UK NEQAS (www.ukneqas.org.uk) quality assessment. These Reference Materials will support run-to-run and lab-to-lab longitudinal assessment of performance of the NGS technology.  

In Phase Two of the SMP, Cancer Research UK will work with the national Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) network and national genetic testing laboratories to develop a national screening programme for lung cancer samples in the NHS. Once screened, these results will be used to place patients on the National Lung Matrix Trial, run by the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRCTU) in Birmingham, and led by Prof. Gary Middleton.   

The scope of the project involves Horizon’s Diagnostics business unit providing renewable, genetically defined Reference Materials representing a range of genetic aberrations and containing defined allelic mutation frequencies. The Reference Materials developed will enable reliable comparison of assay performance across sequencing platforms, targeted assays and laboratories by providing a common universal reference point.

Many factors contribute to variability in the quality of clinical samples, which is currently a concern within molecular pathology laboratories working towards the clinical application of NGS panels for tumor screening. To address this, Cancer Research UK will use Horizon’s precisely defined formalin compromised Reference Standards to assess the performance of Cancer Research UK’s-SMP NGS, in order to inform any necessary changes in clinical practice surrounding preparation of FFPE samples for downstream NGS analysis. 

Dr Paul Morrill, President, Products, Horizon Discovery, said: “Research programs such as Cancer Research UK’s Stratified Medicine Programme form a vital piece of the puzzle in the drive toward personalized, or stratified, medicine as a routine approach for the testing and treatment of cancer. We are delighted to have been chosen to support Cancer Research UK on the delivery of Phase Two of this project.”

Dr Ian Walker, Head of Cancer Research UK’s stratified medicine programme, commented: “Research into stratified medicine is helping us to understand the genetic changes that drive cancer, and to find out how different cancers respond to treatment. Ensuring accuracy in genetic assessment of tumors is a vital part of this process, and we welcome Horizon’s involvement in assisting Cancer Research UK with taking the Stratified Medicine Programme forwards.”