VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, January 11, 2020 – Canexia Health today announced critical progress milestones as well as new partnerships for Project ACTT (Access to Cancer Testing & Treatment in Response to COVID-19). With a strategic investment from Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, Project ACTT is speeding up cancer testing for targeted treatment selection during the pandemic through a minimally invasive circulating tumor (ctDNA) DNA test, which is available as an alternative to some surgical tissue biopsies for patients with advanced lung, breast, or colorectal cancer.
Milestones to date include:
- More than 800 Canadian cancer patients have received testing since Project ACTT launched in July 2020.
- Reportable findings were identified for almost 50 percent of samples.
- The program has expanded across Canada with samples received from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.
- Approximately 11 percent of samples (versus a target of 10 percent) are incoming from rural and remote areas, where patients may not have access to specialized testing typically offered in major urban areas and academic research hospitals.
- Pfizer, Novartis, and Nova Scotia Health Authority have joined the collaboration, which initially launched with Queen’s University, AstraZeneca Canada, the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association, Genolife, Semaphore Solutions, emtelligent, Xtract AI, Novateur, and Illumina.
COVID-19 has delayed at least 100,000 surgeries in Canada, including up to 30 percent of cancer-related surgeries such as tissue biopsies. Currently, surgery backlogs are estimated to be 1-2 years across the country. ctDNA testing can be an effective alternative to some surgical tissue biopsies to guide cancer targeted treatment, which can improve patient outcomes two- to three-fold.
“ctDNA testing offers a comprehensive, equitable, and sustainable approach to help ensure uninterrupted care for cancer patients,” said Daniel Hebert, VP, Medical Affairs, Oncology, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. “As we enter a second wave of the pandemic, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on disease diagnosis and access to treatments for cancer patients. Continued support for cancer biomarker testing is critical as this helps patients access cancer treatment with less risk while helping offset hospital resources that are otherwise focused on COVID-19.”
In addition to reaching patients during the pandemic, Project ACTT is generating health economics data to accelerate Canadian provincial health coverage for ctDNA testing for cancer treatment selection over the long-term.
“We believe the health economic data generated by Project ACTT will help establish cancer testing and infrastructure responsive to the needs of tens of thousands of cancer patients and thousands of researchers each year regardless of future pandemics,” said Cynthia Di Lullo, Canada Oncology Lead at Pfizer. “This can only be accomplished by securing reimbursement for testing, and we are pleased to help support these efforts.”
Michael Carter, Molecular and Anatomical Pathologist, Department of Pathology, Nova Scotia Health Authority Central Zone added, “We are committed to supporting cancer patients in Nova Scotia during these challenging times by taking part in forward-thinking initiatives like Project ACTT. Project ACTT will give us an opportunity to evaluate the broader use of ctDNA testing in standard of care, which could have long term benefits for Nova Scotians.”
“Through Project ACTT, we are working to demonstrate the value of ctDNA testing at the local level, to future proof against future crises and offer an alternative that is available to patients no matter where they live,” said Michael Ball, Canexia Health’s CEO. “It is critical that cancer patients have equitable access to safe, affordable and local/remote cancer testing to protect their health over the long-term. We look forward to continuing this work with collaborators and consortium members to make cancer testing and treatment accessible to all cancer patients.”
Visit the Project ACTT hub for more information including how to access the program, downloadable resources, and patient stories.
About Canexia Health
Canexia Health makes high-quality cancer genomic information accessible and affordable with our clinically-validated assays, informatics, and support. Our suite of genomics-based cancer tests is clinically actionable and cost-effective, designed to improve cancer treatment and monitoring. With our extensive scientific experience, specialized genomics-based tests, and support from pharmaceutical and diagnostic partners, we are leading the shift towards precision oncology.
About Digital Technology Supercluster
The Digital Technology Supercluster solves some of industry’s and society’s biggest problems through Canadian-made technologies. We bring together private and public sector organizations of all sizes to address challenges facing Canada’s economic sectors including healthcare, natural resources, manufacturing, and transportation. Through this ‘collaborative innovation,’ the Supercluster helps to drive solutions better than any single organization could on its own. The Digital Technology Supercluster is led by industry leaders such as D-Wave, LifeLabs, LlamaZOO, Lululemon, MDA, Microsoft, Mosaic Forest Management, Sanctuary AI, Teck Resources Limited, TELUS, Terramera, and 1Qbit. Together, we work to position Canada as a global hub for digital innovation. A full list of Members can be found here.
Head of Communications