Documents & Announcements
ClinGen Cancer Somatic Working Group - standardizing and democratizing access to cancer molecular diagnostic data to drive translational research
A growing number of academic and community clinics are conducting genomic testing to inform treatment decisions for cancer patients (1). In the last 3-5 years, there has been a rapid increase in clinical use of next generation sequencing (NGS) based cancer molecular diagnostic (MolDx) testing (2). The increasing availability and decreasing cost of tumor genomic profiling means that physicians can now make treatment decisions armed with patient-specific genetic information. Accumulating research in the cancer biology field indicates that there is significant potential to improve cancer patient outcomes by effectively leveraging this rich source of genomic data in treatment planning (3). To achieve truly personalized medicine in oncology, it is critical to catalog cancer sequence variants from MolDx testing for their clinical relevance along with treatment information and patient outcomes, and to do so in a way that supports large-scale data aggregation and new hypothesis generation. One critical challenge to encoding variant data is adopting a standard of annotation of those variants that are clinically actionable. Through the NIH-funded Clinical Genome Resource (ClinGen) (4), in collaboration with NLM?s ClinVar database and >50 academic and industry based cancer research organizations, we developed the Minimal Variant Level Data (MVLD) framework to standardize reporting and interpretation of drug associated alterations (5). We are currently involved in collaborative efforts to align the MVLD framework with parallel, complementary sequence variants interpretation clinical guidelines from the Association of Molecular Pathologists (AMP) for clinical labs (6). In order to truly democratize access to MolDx data for care and research needs, these standards must be harmonized to support sharing of clinical cancer variants. Here we describe the processes and methods developed within the ClinGen?s Somatic WG in collaboration with over 60 cancer care and research organizations as well as CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited clinical testing labs to develop standards for cancer variant interpretation and sharing.