Groundbreaking cancer diagnoses has arrived in Northwest Indiana for the first time with Hammond-based Alverno Laboratories’ implementation of Precision Medicine into its network.

Precision medicine seeks to predict which treatment and eventually prevention strategies for a certain disease will work in which groups of people.

Alverno Laboratories CEO Sam Terese said the company purchased instrumentation to perform genome sequencing that can reveal genetic mutations that can offer clues about a patient’s diagnosis or how they will respond to treatment.

Terese noted that “this will allow us to develop a deeper understanding of a person’s cancer at the DNA level. By doing that, we can take that information and better connect them to therapies that will work for their particular cancer.”  “Based on patients’ genetic sequences, it can show what types of clinical trials may help them fight cancer,” Terese said. 

“Traditionally, tumors have been studied at the cellular level with the dissection of a tumor  and a microscope. Now tumors can be studied at the level of an individual’s DNA or the DNA of the tumor” Terese said.

“The technology is currently being used by hospitals within Chicago, but nothing until recently within Northwest Indiana” Terese said. “Northwest Indiana is a growing area, and now this new level of care is available to the community, in the community” Terese commented. “For those who want to move into Indiana, this is another example of not having to give anything up. This is making the community stronger for current residents, but also for future residents.”

Northwest Indiana is home to more than 820,000 residents, according to a report published by the Indiana Business Research Center. About 2 in 5 Indiana residents will eventually have cancer, according to a recent report from the Indiana Cancer Consortium, meaning approximately 329,000 Northwest Indiana residents will develop cancer in their lifetime. The ICC report also noted that, each year, 36,000 Hoosiers are predicted to develop cancer – in 2017 it was predicted that four new cases would occur every hour of every day. Also, in 2017 there were an estimated 13,590 cancer deaths in Indiana, which was 11.2 percent higher than the U.S. death rate from cancer.

“This will allow patients to get the care they need in the communities they live in,” Terese said. “And they’ll be able to continue to get that care without having to go into the unknown.”

Alverno Laboratories, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is one of the largest integrated laboratory networks in the United States. It owns or supports nearly 40 hospital laboratories in Illinois and Indiana, provides laboratory services to two freestanding emergency departments and thousands of physician offices and other clients, and features a central laboratory performing both clinical and anatomic pathology. Alverno’s innovative, state-of-the-art laboratory offers cost effective testing and personalized customer service, with advanced technology and testing in Precision Medicine/Next-Gen Sequencing, toxicology and other specialty testing. Alverno’s on-site pathologists at it’s central laboratory are part of the pathology practice of Pathology Consultants, Inc. Terese has been with the company since 2005, first as Vice President, then as Chief Operating Officer, and, since Sept. 8, 2011, as its President and CEO.