Strength in numbers

Dr. Jill Kolesar

The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network – made up of 18 major cancer centers across the U.S. – is changing how we think about cancer.

What if we could figure out why some patients respond to cancer treatments and others don’t? It’s a question that’s especially important in Kentucky, which has the highest rate of cancer in the country. The UK Markey Cancer Center has joined forces with other hospitals across the nation to unravel this mystery and help advance the fight against cancer.

The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network (ORIEN) is a powerful alliance of 18 major cancer centers that was founded by Moffitt Cancer Center and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center with the goal to better understand, detect and treat cancer.

The cancers centers in the network collect data and tissue samples from patients around the country and follow themthroughout their lives. ORIEN members are able to easily collaborate and share valuable findings with each other. This joint effort will give researchers a better picture of genetics, tumor types, treatments and other health factors.

“Teamwork is essential to advancing the field of cancer research and treatment,” said Jill Kolesar, PharmD, administrative director of the Precision Medicine Clinic at Markey. “Through our continued successful partnerships and collaborations, we are making incredible progress in understanding cancers affecting families and friends in our own backyard and leading to new initiatives to help Kentuckians with cancer.”

How ORIEN Works

The ORIEN trial uses the Total Cancer Care® (TCC) protocol. TCC is operated by M2Gen, which is a for-profit subsidiary of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Providers swab a patient’s cheek to collect a genetic sample and may also collect blood or tissue taken during tumor removal. All the information gathered is confidential and the program is completely voluntary.

This research has already led to new treatments, improved care, and better quality of life for cancer patients near and far. Markey researchers have used ORIEN data to learn more about local cancer patterns. This knowledge has helped Markey offer patients better matches for leadingedge clinical trials. It has also led to greater insight into the ways genes affect drugs, as well as research for medicines that work with a patient’s genes.

A focus on children

Up to 10 percent of pediatric cancer patients have a genetic mutation that puts them at a higher lifetime cancer risk, but it’s hard to know who’s affected without genetic testing. That’s where ORIEN comes in.

The ORIEN trial allows researchers to better understand child’s future cancer risk. This helps doctors match children with appropriate trials, and it also predicts screenings that children may need in the future.

Markey was the first program in the country to enroll pediatric patients in the ORIEN program. Children are eligible from birth if they are diagnosed with cancer or at high risk for cancer.

Pushing cancer research forward

More than 1,000 Markey patients enrolled in the ORIEN program within the first year. That number placed Markey in the top third of the consortium hospitals. The momentum is continuing, and more and more patients continue to participate each year. To date, more than 6,500 UK HealthCare patients have enrolled in the ORIEN trial.

A key part of Markey’s enrollment numbers is a 2019 collaboration with the Lexington Clinic. This relationship gives patients at the Markey Cancer Center at Lexington Clinic practices access to the ORIEN study. Nearly 900 of these patients have enrolled in the ORIEN trial over the past three years.

“We are making incredible progress in understanding the cancers affecting families and friends in our own backyard.”

Dr. Jill Kolesar

It’s easy for patients to participate in the trial, and many are happy to know they’re contributing to research that will impact the future of cancer care.

“When asked if they’d like to participate in this program, the response from our patients here has been remarkable,” said Dr. William Camp, hematologist/oncologist at the Markey Cancer Center at Lexington Clinic. “They have recognized the value of this alliance studying their personal cancer information not only for themselves, but also to other present and future individuals with cancer and their families.”

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

Topics in this Story