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Donor support helps patients with genotyping costs

May 30, 2017

Genotyping a tumor to identify DNA mutations is an expensive workup, one that health insurance policies won’t always cover. Philanthropic support is helping fill that gap.

Under the volunteer leadership of Orrin H. Ingram II, chair of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) Board of Overseers, his brother John Ingram and Board of Overseers member Ronnie James, private donors have raised $5 million to defray that cost when it’s not reimbursable.

The initiative, known as V-MATCH, helps to link patients to new precision medicine therapies and to enroll them in clinical trials, said Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., associate director of Clinical Research at VICC. The program gives patients access to therapies that may extend and improve their lives—and, at the same time, yields important data for cancer research.

“At this point, it is still controversial about what sort of insurance coverage is provided for these tests, especially some of the more expensive, larger gene panels,” said Douglas Johnson, M.D., MSCI. “For example, there are some platforms that look for mutations and changes in over 300 genes. How to pay for those is always a question. Support from donors is helping us get that testing done.”

V-MATCH support has helped VICC perform DNA analysis of a record number of tumors, run 41 clinical trials based on tumor genotyping and increase the number of patients enrolled in clinical trials.