The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust has announced a partnership with Automata, an automation company, with an aim to facilitate increased cancer genomic testing capacity through robotic automation and expand the range of tests the specialist cancer centre can perform.
The collaboration will develop an automated system for clinical cancer genomic testing, with the new installation set to increase the hospital’s next-generation sequencing (NGS) capacity by approximately 2000 tests each month.
In addition, through the introduction of the platform it’s expected to increase accuracy and efficiency through its laboratory ‘smart bench’ “with integrated automation features and accompanying software”.
As a result, the Royal Marsden will also be able to launch a new genetic screening service which will aim to identify people at risk of cancer based on their inherited genetic mutations. The testing will ensure that people who are identified as at risk of developing cancer will be closely monitored for signs of the disease and preventative treatments may be offered to reduce the long-term risks of cancer developing.
Professor Michael Hubank, scientific director of clinical genomics at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Translational Genomics at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Thanks to Automata’s innovative robotic technology, this UK-first clinical diagnostics installation will transform genomic testing at The Royal Marsden by streamlining our processes, substantially increasing our capacity without compromising accuracy. Once opened, the facility will enable us to analyse the genetic make-up of more cancers than ever before, helping us to target cancer treatments and identity those at higher risk of the disease.”
Neal Parker, strategic account director at Automata, also added that “the insights and information that genomics testing provides, empower doctors and patients to make the right decisions for therapy. As well as the increased capacity, scientists in the laboratory now have more walk-away time to spend on analysis and research.”
The new installation will be housed at the NIHR Centre for Molecular Pathology and is due to be completed in 2024. The project is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and The Institute of Cancer Research, London.
HTN last reported on The Royal Marsden in March, when the trust went live with an electronic patient record system.
Prior to the EPR go-live, we reported on a study with The Royal Marsden, Institute of Cancer Research and ICL, that is using AI in identifying risk of cancer returning.
Earlier this year, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust signed a five-year deal with Atos to modernise its communications infrastructure and install hybrid, cloud-based technologies.