Utah genomics lab certified; new hope to find personalized cancer therapies

ST. GEORGE — The core laboratory facility for Intermountain Precision Genomics in St. George has passed inspection and received accreditation from the College of American Pathologists, the lab announced Monday.

Intermountain’s news release called the College of American Pathologists the most respected pathology organization. The CAP accreditation process, it said, follows a peer-based inspector model.

For Precision Genomics’ accreditation, the college assigned an inspector from a genomics lab at Stanford University who is heavily involved in writing regulations pertaining to next-generation sequencing, David Loughmiller, Precision Genomics lab manager said.

David Loughmiller Precision Genomics Lab
Intermountain Precision Genomics Laboratory Manager David Loughmiller in an October 2015 interview with St. George News anticipating the ribbon-cutting and open house for the lab’s new facility at 272 S. 1470 East. St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“He was extremely qualified in being able to review our processes,” Loughmiller said.

Preparation for the inspection required a comprehensive amount of validation, Intermountain’s release said. The lab had to ensure the quality and performance of its methods are well-suited to provide accurate information for physicians and their patients.

“The last three months have been a period of intense preparation,” Loughmiller said. “Although, to pass the CAP inspection, the process started more than 12 months ago, including hiring the best and the brightest on this team.”

Intermountain Precision Genomics opened in 2014 and began the work of processing tissue samples from cancer patients all over the country. In June 2015, the new and larger core lab facility opened at 272 S. 1470 East in St. George.


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This 2015 photo shows Dr. Pravin Mishra in an interview with St. George News at the ribbon-cutting open house for Intermountain Precision Genomics Lab's new facility, St. George, Utah, Oct. 13, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
This 2015 photo shows Dr. Pravin Mishra in an interview with St. George News at the ribbon-cutting open house for Intermountain Precision Genomics Lab’s new facility, St. George, Utah, Oct. 13, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Dr. Pravin Mishra, clinical laboratory director for Precision Genomics, spoke highly of the scientific background and experience at the lab.

“This successful CAP inspection allows us to solidify what we are offering for cancer patients, look to the future, start developing other assays for liquid biopsy,” Mishra said, “and perhaps double our gene panel for other diseases.”

Precision Genomics is a service of Intermountain Healthcare that offers genetic sequencing of solid tumors. This in-depth sequencing identifies individual mutations within a person’s cancer cells to identify specific DNA targets for personalized drugs.

Intermountain’s southwest regional vice president, Terri Kane, said at the core lab’s October 2013 open house:

There are other places in the country where sequencing is occurring, even at major cancer centers, but there is no place in the country that sequences to the level on the gene that Dixie Regional Medical Center Intermountain Healthcare does.

The lab is able to examine genes at a deeper level, she said, allowing scientists to identify more mutations than other labs.

The work reflects contributions from a team of people at the lab and from across the country coming together under the umbrella of Intermountain Healthcare, Communication Specialist Bonnie Char Hallman told St. George News in October 2015. She also said:

Right now precision genomics for cancer is kind of the main focus of what the laboratory does but in the future we’re looking at  precision genomics for immunology, precision genomics for neonatal, brain, heart, cardiac.

The research that will be done and that is part of the Precision Genomics program is really cutting-edge. We have a molecular tumor board that encompasses physicians and experts from all over the country that meet and discuss the results and the findings of what happens here in the lab and they can identify targeted therapies that will target that specific mutation.

For more information about Intermountain Precision Genomics please visit its website, join the dialog on Facebook or follow the lab on Twitter.

Ed. note: Video top of this story was first published by St. George News Oct. 13, 2015, when Intermountain Healthcare held a ribbon-cutting and open house for the new core lab facility for Precision Genomics.

Intermountain Precision Genomics Lab StGeorgeNews
This 2015 photo shows lab work being done at the new Intermountain Precision Genomics Lab facility, St. George, Utah, Oct. 11, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
Aimee Shamo, Pat Bradley, Jackie Wayne and Sara King process samples in the core laboratory at Intermountain Precision Genomics, St. George, Utah, circa 2014-15 | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News
Aimee Shamo, Pat Bradley, Jackie Wayne and Sara King process samples in the core laboratory at Intermountain Precision Genomics, St. George, Utah, circa 2014-15 | Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News
The core laboratory at Intermountain Precision Genomics, St. George, Utah, circa 2015-16| Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News
The core laboratory at Intermountain Precision Genomics, St. George, Utah, circa 2015-16| Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare, St. George News

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