Lehigh Valley patients will now have access to the latest in cancer research and treatment thanks to a partnership between Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute of Tampa, Florida.
Biopsies from cancer patients will be put into a genetic matching system for clinical trials similar to the organ donor database.
"We can call them up and say we have a trial opportunity for you are you interested in participate in it," said Moffitt Cancer Center Professor of Surgery and Oncologic Sciences Tim Yeatman.
Medical breakthroughs and research can be expensive, but LVHN President and CEO Ron Swinfard says clinical trials will be available to anyone who qualifies.
"One of the great things about clinical trials is often you don't pay for those medications whatsoever because you are on a trial," said Swinfard.
Swinfard says the National Cancer Institute works with cancer centers and insurance providers to cover as much of the cost of trials as possible and many health networks like LVHN devote millions to indigent care for those with no or inadequate coverage.
"Initially the focus will be on cancers that can't be cured where the patients become resistant to existing treatments and that is where the most desperate need is now," said LVHN Senior Medical Director of Onvology Academic and Research Programs Dr. Suresh Nair.
Lehigh Health Network was started back in the 1970's by Air Products founder Leonard Parker Poole after his wife died of cancer.
LVHN says the partnership is everything Pool envisioned.
"It's a great day for the Network, Leonard would be proud," said Swinfard.
Clinical trials are expected to open in the next three to six months and will focus on the most serious or stage four cancer cases.
LVHN says the database should be up and running in a year.