NEW YORK – The Broad Institute and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on Saturday invited anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer in the US and Canada to join a research initiative called Count Me In and share their medical data, personal experiences, and biological samples for genomic sequencing.
The research initiative launched in 2015, and Count Me In became a nonprofit cancer research organization in 2018. To date, the project has enrolled more than 8,500 patients with specific tumor types, such as metastatic breast, prostate, gastric, and esophageal cancers, brain tumors, and various sarcomas. The data shared by these patients has allowed researchers at the Broad and Dana-Farber to build databases of genomic, molecular, clinical, and patient-reported data and share it with other cancer researchers around the world.
The institutions said in a statement that they are now extending enrollment opportunities within Count Me In to all cancer patients based on their success collecting data from patients with specific types of cancers. "Every patient's experience with cancer should be counted," Nikhil Wagle, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber and director of Count Me In, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to expand our partnership with patients, so that every person affected by cancer can contribute to the research breakthroughs that will improve our understanding of this disease and ultimately lead to better treatments, improved care, and longer lives."
Count Me In allows patients to remotely partake in research from their homes. They can sign up online, share their experience with cancer through surveys, and provide researchers access to their medical records. The study organizers also send saliva sample collection kits to participants' homes, which they can mail back to researchers for molecular analysis. Patients can also provide blood samples or give researchers permission to access tissues samples from their local care providers.
"Due to the fact that the majority of cancer patients have not had the opportunity to participate in research — because most cancer patients are cared for in community settings where this type of research is not done — most patients have never been asked if they'd like to contribute their tissue samples and medical information for research," the Broad and Dana-Farber said in a statement. In expanding remote enrollment to all cancer patients, the institutions hope to provide opportunities for those in historically marginalized communities to partake in research.