VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, July 15, 2020 – A consortium led by Vancouver-based Canexia Health (formerly Contextual Genomics) will enable access to critical testing and treatment options for Canadian cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Supported by the Digital Technology Supercluster, the CAD $2,590,000 initiative, named Project ACTT – Access to Cancer Testing & Treatment, will deploy and enhance a liquid biopsy solution that requires only a simple blood draw for cancer treatment selection, thereby eliminating the need for many patients to travel to hospital for surgical biopsies.
The consortium’s goal is to limit patient exposure to COVID-19 while increasing health system capacity initially for patients with recurrent or metastatic lung, breast, or colon cancer. The digital liquid biopsy solution uses advanced software technology including machine learning to identify circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in plasma and matches patients with targeted treatments shown to improve outcomes. In addition to Canexia Health, the consortium includes AstraZeneca Canada, Queen’s University, the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association, Genolife, emtelligent, Novateur, Semaphore Solutions, Xtract AI, and Illumina.
Cancer patients have an estimated two-fold increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and a three-fold risk of dying compared to the general population. A comprehensive approach is required to address the needs of this high-risk group to limit their exposure and minimize hospital visits. Since early March, COVID-19 has delayed or postponed at least 100,000 surgeries in Canada including cancer tissue biopsies.