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NorthShore Enlists Ambry Genetics for Whole-Exome Sequencing

This story has been updated to reflect new information from NorthShore regarding its alliance with Invitae.

CHICAGO (GenomeWeb) – NorthShore University HealthSystem is enlisting Ambry Genetics to offer genetic testing and research opportunities, the two entities announced today.

Under the new partnership, Aliso Viejo, California-based Ambry Genetics will provide whole-exome sequencing for 10,000 patients enrolled in NorthShore's Genomic Health Initiative.

The vendor also will combine sequencing data with those patients' electronic health records for a study of genetic variations that the NorthShore institutional review board has already signed off on. But the real goal is to accelerate the move of precision medicine into clinical practice.

"This collaboration will help advance healthcare and equip clinicians caring for a patient with the most precise, up-to-date treatment information," said Michael Kaplan, chief scientific officer of Illinois-based NorthShore, which has hospitals in Evanston, Glenview, Highland Park, and Skokie.

The partnership also aims to apply a genetic risk score — developed by NorthShore's vice president of translational research, Jianfeng Xu — based on analysis of aggregated data to assist primary care physicians in assessing disease risk. NorthShore initially will offer GRS testing for prostate cancer, the organization said.

In May, Evanston-based NorthShore teamed with molecular diagnostics firm Invitae to advance a next-generation sequencing test for cancer risk that will combine analysis of around 100 inherited high-risk genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and ATM.

That collaboration also involved Xu's GRS but NorthShore has now decided to collaborate with Ambry because their "work in exome sequencing and their services better align with our research goals for GRS testing," said Justin Brueck, senior director of laboratory and Research Institute administration at NorthShore.

Brueck added that the physicians at NorthShore University HealthSystem will continue to work with Invitae and other labs to offer genetic screening to patients as part of their annual physicals.