July 11, 2016 — In the spirit of collaboration inspired by the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) are proud to announce a new tri-agency coalition that will help cancer patients by enabling their oncologists to more rapidly and accurately identify effective drugs to treat cancer based on a patient’s unique proteogenomic profile.
The APOLLO Network — Applied Proteogenomics Organizational Learning and Outcomes — will look at both a patient’s genes (genomic analysis) and the expression of these genes in the form of proteins (proteomic analysis) to create the nation’s first system in which cancer patients are routinely screened for genomic abnormalities and proteomic information to match their tumor types to targeted therapies. Initially, APOLLO is focusing on a combined cohort of 8,000 cancer patients within the nation’s two largest healthcare systems — the VA and DoD — with the aim of expanding the program to additional cancer types and making findings available to physicians across the country. APOLLO is starting with lung cancer to address the pressing need of treating a form of cancer that is pervasive and prevalent among about veterans and service members. Approximately 8,000 veterans are diagnosed with lung cancer each year in the VA’s Veterans Health System alone.
The collaboration brings together the scientific and technical capabilities and facilities in DoD’s Murtha Cancer Center, the VA’s Veterans Health System, and the NCI’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium. Spurred by the NCI, genomics has launched a revolution in precision oncology by identifying targetable mutations in cancers. Unfortunately, there is still key missing biology when trying to reliably predict which patients’ tumors respond to any given therapy. This is likely because molecular drivers of cancer are derived not just from DNA, but also from proteins. Knowing more about a patient’s proteins should enable us to better predict how cancer will respond to a specific, targeted chemotherapy or combination therapy. A critical next step in the evolution of precision oncology is to continue to study what we are just learning in proteogenomics to identify the protein pathways and gene mutations in a tumor that drive cancer growth that can be vital to selecting targeted therapies more precisely. This is an exciting time for the field of proteogenomics. APOLLO Network will provide insight on the success of moving into the field of proteogenomics as a meaningful way to treat lung cancer patients with the promise of being able to quickly extend into other cancer types if proven to be successful.