The Jackson Laboratory
Since 2015 the Harold Alfond Foundation has partnered with the The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) on the Maine Cancer Genomic Initiative (MCGI). In the words of JAX, this initiative is a “special alliance of cancer experts, clinicians, and [JAX] researchers focused on improving outcomes for Maine cancer patients by bringing advanced cancer genomic technologies to every cancer care provider in Maine.” With Foundation funding, the MCGI has provided genomics diagnostic testing at no cost to Maine patients with hard-to-treat cancers; curated known therapies for genetic mutations; developed and delivered oncologist, pathologist, and primary care physician education about clinical genomics cancer diagnostics; and facilitated the formation of genomic tumor boards across the state.
The Foundation’s support for JAX is in direct response to Maine having one of the highest incidences of cancer in the country, with approximately 9,000 new cases each year. As noted by JAX, “At the heart of the MCGI is a sophisticated test, a genetic sequencing panel of cancer-related genes known to be associated with various cancers. This panel assesses a patient’s genetic profile based on associations with response or resistance to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved targeted therapies or new drugs in development.”
In 2020, the Foundation announced additional funding, totaling $11,924,000, for a second phase of the MCGI, enabling JAX, in partnership with the National Cancer Institute, to enhance patient access to treatments recommended by the patients’ genomic test results. The second phase also seeks to bring more clinical trials to Maine and to expand patient navigation services for those patients not eligible for Maine-based trials.