Spring 2015 

Commentary Overview

* ORIEN—Oncology Research Information Exchange Network—is a novel precision cancer research collaboration founded by AACI members Moffitt Cancer Center and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

* Four AACI cancer centers recently have joined ORIEN--City of Hope, University of Virginia Cancer Center, University of Colorado Cancer Center, and University of New Mexico Cancer Center.

* ORIEN allows researchers to work with a network of networks, leading to collaborative rather than competing strategies for enhancing personalized medicine efforts at member institutions.
About AACI Commentary

As part of AACI's efforts to feature the work and views of its member centers, AACI has launched AACI Commentary, a quarterly editorial series. Written by cancer center leaders, each edition will focus on a major issue of common interest to the nation's cancer centers.

ORIEN Points the Way to Wider Data Sharing, New Cancer Therapies

It is becoming clear that continued progress in molecularly targeted therapies for cancer calls for quick access to appropriate groups of patients that harbor particular changes in cancer cells. Given the relative rarity of these cellular shifts, pooling data across large, diverse patient populations is vital for adapting cancer treatment models to the demands of patients and society.

In response to that need for enhanced data sharing, the National Institutes of Health's Precision Medicine Initiative, unveiled in January by President Obama, set an immediate goal of intensifying efforts to apply precision medicine to cancer. Longer-term, the initiative aims to build a comprehensive scientific knowledge base to put precision medicine into practice on a much larger scale. That effort will include launching a national cohort study of a million or more Americans who will voluntarily share their genomic information and biological specimens.

Similar data-sharing ventures within the cancer research community have been examined over the past year and a half by AACI's Molecular Diagnostics Initiative, under the guidance of its Data Collection Working Group. One collaboration that has come to the fore is ORIEN—Oncology Research Information Exchange Network--a novel research partnership anchored by AACI members Moffitt Cancer Center and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).

Federated Network
"ORIEN is a data-sharing and tissue-sharing federated effort, augmenting what centers already have in place," said William S. Dalton, PhD, MD, president and CEO of M2Gen, and founding director of the DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute at Moffitt Cancer Center

Billed as the world's largest precision cancer research collaboration, ORIEN announced in February that four AACI cancer centers had joined its network--City of Hope, University of Virginia Cancer Center, University of Colorado Cancer Center, and University of New Mexico Cancer Center. A seventh member, Morehouse School of Medicine, in Atlanta, also recently joined.

ORIEN's cancer center members will adopt Total Cancer Care® (see AACI Commentary, Summer 2014), a protocol created by Moffitt in 2006 and now in use at the OSUCCC-James. The protocol creates a standard system for tracking patient molecular, clinical and epidemiological data. Consented patients are followed throughout their lifetime and agree to be contacted for future studies, playing an active role in the study of their cancer and improving care for future generations.

To date, approximately 120,000 patients are participating in the project, most from Moffitt and its partners around Tampa, with a little more than 8,000 from OSUCCC-James. The expansion of the network allows for more than 50,000 new patients each year to donate their tissue and clinical data – including corresponding genomic data – for research to understand cancer at the molecular level, with the goal of developing more targeted cancer treatments.

All ORIEN members have agreed to share deidentified data sets and metadata, and the network is currently building "data marts"—raw data stored in a data warehouse and accessible to all participating centers.

Any single data sharing system is unlikely to provide the cancer research community with all of the information that it wants or needs. Instead, diverse efforts like ORIEN allow researchers to take a team approach and work with a network of networks, leading to unique approaches and abilities. Ultimately, ORIEN was created to enhance personalized medicine efforts at member institutions, not compete with them.

"ORIEN will greatly leverage the investments in precision medicine we have made at the CU Cancer Center and will accelerate and facilitate innovation by our faculty for the benefit of our patients in Colorado and beyond," said Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the CU Cancer Center.

Cancer center members also have the opportunity to engage their community hospital partners through participation in Total Cancer Care®, enabling their patients and affiliated physicians to work with ORIEN to contribute to the research consortium. In addition, physicians at participating institutions are better equipped to refer patients to appropriate clinical trials as they will have better tools to determine an appropriate match.

"Through ORIEN, we will ensure that the multiethnic, multicultural populations of New Mexico and the American Southwest, primarily Hispanic, non-Hispanic White, and American Indian, will benefit from new personalized cancer medicine initiatives," said Cheryl Willman, MD, director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center.

Academia, Industry Link
ORIEN can also provide a link between academia and industry via M2Gen®, a subsidiary of Moffitt, which serves as ORIEN's operational and commercial provider for support, bringing expertise in data management and informatics.

Through M2Gen, industry researchers are able to match their targeted drugs to participating patients within ORIEN cancer center members based on their molecular profile, promoting greater clinical trial precision and flexibility. Ultimately, researchers are better equipped to identify potential candidates for their drug trials, leading to faster trial enrollment and better outcomes. ORIEN also creates the ability to accelerate and improve efficiencies of clinical trials and the drug approval process, including post-market surveillance.

"M2Gen® will facilitate what we view as the ideal way to conduct cancer research and help patients – an approach that promotes collaborative learning at all levels," said Dr. Dalton, M2Gen's president. "Our goal with all members of ORIEN is to connect patients to the best treatment options, including clinical trials, by accelerating the discovery and delivery of precision medicine."

The ORIEN collaborative continues to seek partnerships with other leading cancer centers in North America. More information may be found at ORIENcancer.org .

Representing 93 of the nation's premier academic and free-standing cancer centers, the Association of American Cancer Institutes is dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer by enhancing the impact of the nation's leading cancer centers.