PRESS RELEASE—Toronto, ON (September 2, 2020) – LifeLabs is pleased announce it has partnered with Bayer Inc. to launch FastTRK, a complimentary clinical testing program for the diagnosis of neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) gene fusions in TRK fusion cancer patients in Canada.
Bayer founded the FastTRK program through partnerships with LifeLabs and the Kingston Health Sciences Centre, who are the initial labs that will be providing this centralized testing service. Bayer will cover the full cost of the test regardless of the results, treatment decision and patient’s insurance coverage until at least the end of 2021.
“We’re pleased to be working with Bayer on this as it supports a common goal among many health care organizations in finding effective tests for patients with severe medical conditions such as cancer,” says Charles Brown, President and CEO of LifeLabs. “Because this test is for such a rare form of cancer, it represents an exciting innovation that may lead to other treatment options for patients, where previous options have failed.”
Some cancers are caused by specific changes in genes (referred to as ‘genomic alterations’). TRK fusion cancer is caused by the fusion of an NTRK gene with another unrelated gene. TRK fusion cancer can occur in any organ or tissue type in the body, in both children and adults. FastTRK enables clinicians to test their patients’ cancer for the presence of an NTRK gene fusion across all solid tumour types. If an NTRK gene fusion is found, that patient may be eligible for a targeted treatment option.
“As new treatment options are approved to help cancer patients in Canada, in this new era of precision medicine, testing partnerships such as FastTRK are critical bridges to help clinicians identify which of their patients are candidates for specific targeted therapies,” says Dr. Shurjeel Choudhri, Senior Vice President and Head, Medical & Scientific Affairs for Bayer Inc.
Who can get tested through FastTRK?
Patients with solid tumours that are metastatic, or when surgical resection is likely to result in severe morbidity, and for whom no satisfactory treatment options are available, meet the criteria to be tested. Testing for NTRK gene fusions should be performed for patients with tumour types known to frequently harbour NTRK gene fusions.
LifeLabs is Canada’s leading provider of laboratory diagnostic information and digital health connectivity systems, enabling patients and health care practitioners to diagnose, treat, monitor, and prevent disease. We support 20 million patient visits annually and conduct over 100 million laboratory tests through leading-edge technologies and our 5,700 talented and dedicated employees. We are a committed innovator in supporting Canadians to live healthier lives, operating Canada’s first commercial genetics lab and the country’s largest online patient portal, with more than 4.1 million Canadians receiving their results online. LifeLabs is 100% Canadian owned by OMERS Infrastructure, the infrastructure investment manager of one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans. Learn more at lifelabs.com.
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2019, the Group employed around 104,000 people and had sales of 43.5 billion euros. Capital expenditures amounted to 2.9 billion euros, R&D expenses to 5.3 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.ca.