In light of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week 2017, I wanted to take this quarter’s post and thank all of you who work hard in so many ways to get patients the results they need. You truly are “All Stars.” I thought it would be interesting to have an interactive sort of post; feel free to write in the comments examples of how you and your lab go above and beyond to help patients.
Here is just one example of how the Molecular Diagnostics Lab here at Nebraska Medicine continues to do our part to serve our patient population. Our hospital (University of Nebraska Medical Center) has become a participating center for the TAPUR trial. This stands for “Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry” study; it is a non-randomized clinical trial that is essentially matching anticancer drugs to genomic variants in the patient’s tumor. Currently, most drugs are given based first on what type of tumor it is, then by the genomic variants. For example, if a patient has a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), and that tumor has a duplication in the KIT gene (p.A502_Y503dup), that tumor is sensitive to a drug called Imatinib, among others, and that drug has been shown to help fight the GIST. The TAPUR study’s goal is to see if any tumor that presents with that KIT variant is sensitive to Imatinib, whether the tumor is a GIST or some other type of cancer.
What does this have to do with our lab? Well, there are certain criteria necessary for a patient to be eligible for this trial. In addition to being 18 years or older, not currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant, the patient must have a solid tumor, multiple myeloma, or B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that is not responding to standard anti-cancer treatment and they must be able to be active for at least half the day, every day. Lastly, they need to have had a genomic or molecular test performed on their tumor. I and the technologists that I work with have seen an increase in our testing since our hospital has become a center for this trial because of that last point. We run an assay that tests areas of 50 genes that are known to contain “hotspot” regions that are commonly mutated in different types of cancers, and we run this by next generation sequencing (more to come regarding this type of technology–stay tuned for next quarter’s post!). We have been testing tumors of patients that have not been responding to treatment, and we all realize that each one of the tests that we perform has an impact on how that patient’s tumor will be treated. And here I have to commend the techs in our lab for thriving when faced with the challenge of this increase in testing–they have done an excellent job with the added workload and with keeping up with the changes that are made in this rapidly evolving area of the lab. I think we all appreciate this aspect of our careers–knowing that the hard work we put in every day to do our jobs to the best of our abilities can and does have an effect on people’s lives. Thank you all for everything you do!
For more information on the TAPUR trial, follow this link: http://www.tapur.org/.
-Sharleen Rapp, BS, MB (ASCP)CM is a Molecular Diagnostics Coordinator in the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at Nebraska Medicine.