It is the mission of Hartwig Medical Foundation to advance the research into and treatment of cancer, with a view to improve the care of future cancer patients. The objective of Hartwig Medical Foundation is to realize that every cancer patient receives suitable (and the most effective) treatment, including the right type of drug, in the right dosage, during the right period, at the right time.
It is the aim of Hartwig Medical Foundation to provide every patient suffering from metastatic cancer with the best possible treatment in line with his or her condition, to prevent overtreatment and to make efficient use of the budget for oncological care. This non-profit foundation wishes to see the predictive DNA test (or: predictive Whole Genome Sequencing test) in which the entire DNA of patients with a metastatic tumor is read, included in the regular healthcare system where meaningful, as soon as possible.
Hartwig Medical Foundation maps all DNA defects which may contribute to a better treatment of cancer of individual patients. For the benefit of today’s patients there is the patient report, in which all cancer related genetic defects (identified through the WGS test) are reported back to the specialist and subsequently to the patient. For tomorrow’s patients Hartwig Medical Foundation is setting up and maintaining a DNA database for research into even better care.
Treating specialists in oncological care and patients alike show an increasing interest in Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). Many of the former seek to achieve an improvement of the current average 30 percent effectiveness of medication for people with a metastatic tumor. The demand for this predictive WGS is therefore increasing. At the same time we see there is increasing proof for the effectiveness of WGS.
The activities of Hartwig Medical Foundation are at the interface of diagnostics and research. Because of the strict separation of the funding of research (patient of the future) on the one hand and diagnostics (patient of today) on the other hand. At the moment all tests and the additional costs are still philanthropically funded. Needless to say that this form of funding, with the current budget of 10 million euro a year, is not limitless.
Now that Hartwig Medical Foundation gathers and makes available to all treating specialists and researchers genetic and clinical data in a uniform manner, new biomarkers can be identified faster and existing biomarkers can be improved. This not only results in the discovery of new cancer treatment by researchers, but existing treatment can be used more efficiently. The predictive WGS test therefore offers a method to stimulate ‘appropriate use’. By finding new and improved biomarkers it will become easier to predict which types of medication are effective for certain patients.
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‘If you look at the ocean through a binocular, you only see the point you aim at, say, a big ship. But if you scan the horizon with two eyes, you may also see perhaps a little yacht in the left corner of your eye. The same applies to Whole Genome Sequencing. We not only look at the gene defects we expect to see in a certain tumor, but we also see defects which are less obvious, but which may offer a new lead for treatment.’ Hans van Snellenberg, managing director of Hartwig Medical Foundation
‘The problem of treating cancer patients on the basis of their genetic profile with goal-oriented therapies, is that you need many patients. The way in which the Dutch have solved this problem by involving more than 40 hospitals and making it a national effort, is brilliant.’ Prof. Dr. Richard Marais, Cancer Research UK