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Avera Health and Sema4 Announce Data-driven Study to Advance Cancer Treatment Across the Avera Service Area

Avera Health, an integrated regional health care system that serves 300 locations across the Upper Midwest, and Sema4, an AI-driven genomic and clinical data intelligence platform company, announced the Avera/Sema4 Oncology and Analytics Protocol (ASAP) study, a five-year commitment to population health for precision oncology care.

The ASAP study, which started with a soft launch in November 2021, will enroll up to 3,000 patients a year, including those with cancer and those at risk for developing cancer. Study participants will receive genomic sequencing of their tumor and hereditary cancer and pharmacogenomics testing to identify targeted, personalized treatment options. Sema4 and Avera will then utilize this clinical and genomic data to improve the understanding of the molecular characteristics in all stages of cancer patients to advance precision oncology treatment.

The ASAP study includes patients diagnosed with a malignancy or who are at risk of developing cancer, some of whom live in underserved communities with significant disparities in healthcare access. This initiative builds on Avera and Sema4’s previously announced collaboration to improve cancer care, enabling Avera’s physicians and patients to benefit from data-driven insights that inform targeted treatments.

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Sema4 is using Centrellis, its health intelligence platform, to abstract, curate, and annotate the clinical data from the electronic health records of consented participants in the ASAP study. The electronic health record data is linked to genomic information to identify patterns of cancer risk and progression and build insights that will improve patient care. Sema4 has already curated an initial clinical data set from the study, creating dashboards to deliver additional insights to Avera’s clinicians.

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Avera and Sema4 will leverage Sema4 Signal® Whole Exome/Transcriptome Sequencing (WES/WTS), which captures data from approximately 18,500 genes, to enable comprehensive molecular profiling of a patient’s tumor tissue. The ASAP study will also include Sema4 Signal Hereditary Cancer, one of the most comprehensive hereditary cancer testing panels available, to inform better care decisions for individuals with and without a concurrent cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, participants will receive pharmacogenomics testing to study how variations in some genes may affect impact medication efficacy and safety.

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“Avera has been dedicated to innovation in cancer care. We are confident this study will build off of a strong foundation and benefit the health of thousands of patients in our community now and in the future,” said Casey Williams, PharmD, MBA, Avera’s Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of Cancer Research. “Our goal is to impact a greater patient population, collaborate with other health systems, and, ultimately, provide access to best-in-class genomics and data-driven decision support for early risk identification and detection, prevention, treatment, and wellness to all eligible patients in the footprint, including in underserved areas across the region.”

“Sema4 is committed to collaboration with Avera to create a diverse clinical-genomic dataset that will be utilized to set the highest standard for personalized cancer diagnosis and care in the United States,” said William K. Oh, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Sema4. “Data collected across this patient population will aid in advancing our knowledge of cancer biology, further enhancing predictive disease network models that enable the delivery of precision medicine as the standard of care.”

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